Sixteen year old Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad from the Zahran Language School in Alexandria, Egypt just won the European Fusion Development Agreement award at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists. It involved 130 competitors from 37 countries. I think this is just a wonderful example in the importance of science and innovation. This is awesome for a multitude of reasons:
#1 – She found a positive use for used/leftover plastic which ends up in landfills and destroys the environment.
#2 – This addresses energy needs for the populace which is one of the largest costs for the average person.
#3 – This is just another example of what happens when we teach our kids science and math.
Green Prophet writes HERE:
The idea of breaking down plastic polymers into fuel feedstocks, the bulk raw material used for producing biofuel , is not a new idea. But Faiad has found a high yield catalyst, aluminosilicate catalyst, that breaks down plastic waste producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which are then converted into ethanol to use as biofuel.
Faiad and her mentors propose using this discovery to exploit Egypt’s high plastic consumption, which is estimated to amount to one million tons per year, and make money from recycled plastic! She calculates that this technology “can provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel namely: cracked naphtha of about 40,000 tons per year and hydrocarbon gases of about 138,000 tons per year equivalent to $78 million.”
And even before this innovation and solution for recycled plastics … a study by the Energy Biosciences Institute at Berkeley had already found that 30% of all fuel based transportation needs could be met with plant based biofuels HERE:
Liquid biofuels are currently made almost entirely from sugar, starch, or fats and oils derived from plants that are also used for food and feed. Appropriately, there is concern that the use of food and feed crops for fuel may not be sustainable in the face of expanding demand for food, feed and fiber. However, there is a long-term opportunity to produce fuels from non-edible lignocellulosic biomass from plants. In this brief review, we have summarized some of the issues associated with development of feedstocks for cellulosic transportation fuels and have attempted to outline some of the scientific questions in plant biology that are related specifically to this topic.
Many other reviews of this subject and related matters have appeared, some include a particularly dynamic topic that is beyond the scope of this review – estimates of the impact of land use for biofuels on other uses of land (‘consequential’ or ‘indirect’ land use change). In general, it is apparent that some land is available for production of biofuels without significant effects on food production or on ecosystem services. A recent study estimated that more than 600 million hectares of land worldwide have fallen out of agricultural production, mostly in the last 100 years. Some of this area appears suitable for the production of perennial grasses or other types of energy crops, but additional research is necessary to categorize the land with respect to the potential for various types of energy crops. Our view is that biofuels can probably be produced on a large enough scale to meet demand for about 30% of all liquid transportation fuels. Improvements in energy efficiency could significantly increase the percentage of transportation fuels produced from biomass.
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