Research says plastics-to-fuel technology reduces greenhouse gases

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Using pyrolysis to convert unrecycled plastics into ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel stacks up favorably to similar fuel made from crude oil, new research shows.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory compared the creation of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel created from the plastics-to-fuel process to traditional crude oil.

Research shows reductions of up to 14 percent in greenhouse gas emissions, 58 percent in water consumption and 96 percent in energy consumption using pyrolysis, according to a peer-reviewed article, "Life-Cycle Analysis of Fuels from Post-use Non-recycled Plastics," in a journal called Fuel.

"Argonne's analysis clearly determines that plastics-to-fuel (PTF) technology is a viable and beneficial materials management option," said Craig Cookson, director of recycling and energy recovery for the American Chemistry Council, in a statement. "Not only does PTF reduce waste going to landfills, but these technologies can help reduce GHG emissions while conserving both water and energy."

Argonne, located in Illinois, is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. Pyrolysis uses a process to heat and decompose material, in the absence of oxygen, to create fuel.