How melting plastic waste could heat homes

(The Guardian, 20 Jul 2019) Breakthrough means less pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

It is a problem bedevilling households across the UK: what can we do with the mountains of food-spattered plastic waste left in our bins?

Now a group of scientists say they have the answer – by using the detritus of domestic life to heat homes.

Researchers at the University of Chester have found a way to use dirty plastic waste to produce hydrogen, which can heat homes and fuel cars without producing greenhouse gas emissions. The process uses a glass kiln, heated to 1,000C, to instantly break down unrecyclable plastic to release a mix of gases including hydrogen.

The technology will be used commercially for the first time at a plant near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire later this year after a pair of “waste-energy” companies agreed to invest.

Peele Environmental, the owner of the plant, said the project could help keep 25 million tonnes of “contaminated” plastics, which cannot be recycled, from ending up in landfills or the ocean. Hydrogen could play a key role in helping the UK meet its climate targets by replacing traditional gas used for decades in stoves, radiators and boilers. It could also re place petrol and diesel in cars, vans and buses.

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The Guardian, 20 Jul 2019: How melting plastic waste could heat homes