Researchers break down plastic using sunlight

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Researchers at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University this week said they have found a way to use sunlight to turn consumer plastic into a valuable chemical that could generate clean power.

They reported their findings in the journal Advanced Science.

Speaking in a university news release, the team said it dissolved polyethylene in a solution that contained a vanadium-based catalyst.

Vanadium is a metal commonly used in steel and aluminum alloys for vehicles and aircraft.

The researchers exposed the solution to artificial sunlight, which breaks the carbon bonds in polyethylene and transforms the substance into formic acid.

While other conversion methods exist, the scientists said their process does not use high heat or toxic substances to produce formic acid from plastics.

They explained that formic acid is utilized for power generation in hydrogen fuel cells which could be a low-emissions source of clean energy.

The researchers say they are working to scale up the technology to help Singapore to turn its plastic waste into energy resources without harming the environment.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Study claims plastics could be converted to chemicals used for energy generation
2. Researchers use a vanadium-based catalyst in plastic solution
3. Artificial sunlight converts the plastic solution to formic acid
4. The process does not utilize toxic chemicals or high heat

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Researchers at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University this week said they have found a way to use sunlight to turn consumer plastic into a valuable chemical that could generate clean power."

"They reported their findings in the journal Advanced Science."

"Speaking in a university news release, the team said it dissolved polyethylene in a solution that contained a vanadium-based catalyst."

"Vanadium is a metal commonly used in steel and aluminum alloys for vehicles and aircraft."

"The researchers exposed the solution to artificial sunlight, which breaks the carbon bonds in polyethylene and transforms the substance into formic acid."

"While other conversion methods exist, the scientists said their process does not use high heat or toxic substances to produce formic acid from plastics."

"They explained that formic acid is utilized for power generation in hydrogen fuel cells which could be a low-emissions source of clean energy."

"The researchers say they are working to scale up the technology to help Singapore to turn its plastic waste into energy resources without harming the environment."

SOURCES: Advanced Science, Nanyang Technological University
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/advs.201902020
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/ntu-nss121119.php