Electrochemical Conversion of Waste Plastics into Hydrocarbon-based Fuels

Plastic waste has immense untapped potential as a green energy alternative to petroleum feedstocks. Polyethylene and polypropylene, two of the most common type of plastics, consist of long hydrocarbon chains that when broken down into much smaller hydrocarbon fragments can be used as fuels. Pyrolysis, a chemical process requiring extremely high temperatures (~500°C) and considerable energy input, has been employed for chemical recycling of plastic waste to moderate success. This proposal seeks to invent a sequence of electrochemical processes that enable the controlled degradation of polyethylene- and polypropylene-based plastics into short-chained hydrocarbons that can be used as hydrocarbon fuels in various energy systems.