Image Credit: frank_peters/Shutterstock.com
In February 2021, green-energy organization, Clean Planet Energy, revealed its revolutionary technology that will convert non-recyclable plastics into ultra-clean jet fuel. The innovation provides a solution to two significant environmental issues: rapidly rising plastic waste and increasing CO2 emissions in the aviation sector.
CO2 Emissions and Plastic Pollution: Two Significant Environmental Threats
Global plastic pollution has become a crisis and is one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Although many countries in the developed world have ramped up their recycling efforts in recent years, plastic's annual production continues to increase, and many developing countries struggle to implement recycling strategies. Nearly half of all plastics ever made were produced in the last 15 years, representing an increased production rate, which is predicted to continue.
The cost to the environment and human health is huge. Around 8 million tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year. In addition, the slow degradation of plastic releases microplastics into the environment. Research has shown that microplastics enter the human body via numerous routes and negatively impact our health, with studies linking microplastic exposure to a range of serious illnesses. There is a clear need for new strategies that help recycle large amounts of non-recyclable plastics to help reduce the plastic industry's negative impact.
In 2019, the aviation industry was responsible for adding 915 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. This accounted for 12% of all CO2 emissions attributed to transport and 2-3% of all CO2 emissions.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set the aviation industry a target of reducing net aviation CO2 emissions by 20% in relation to 2005 levels. While emissions have recently dropped, it is expected that much of this is related to worldwide travel bans implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout much of 2020. There are concerns carbon emissions will not only bounce back but possibly exceed previous levels. Therefore, there is also a pressing need for more strategies to reduce emissions associated with aviation.
How We Recycle 'Non-Recyclable', Waste Plastic! (2021)
Video Credit: Clean Planet Energy/YouTube.com
Reducing CO2 Emissions by 75%
This year, green-energy company, Clean Planet Energy, announced that it had achieved a breakthrough that would significantly impact CO2 emissions in the transport industry. The breakthrough will tackle aviation-related emissions and plastic pollution.
The company revealed its ultra-clean jet fuel, known as ‘Clean Planet Air’, that can directly replace the fossil fuel equivalent without updating the aircraft’s technology. Clean Planet Energy claims that its innovative ultra-clean jet fuel reduces CO2 emissions by at least 75% compared with fossil fuels, with the additional environmental benefit of removing thousands of tons of non-recyclable plastics from the environment each year.
The company aims to remove more than 1 million tons of plastic waste from the environment annually. The new fuel is just one of its strategies implemented to achieve this goal. Clean Planet Energy is launching ecoPlants, where non-recyclable waste plastics are converted into new products via pyrolysis and oil-upgrading technology. Here, the company will not only produce ultra-clean jet fuel, although it will be the main focus of the project, it will also create petrochemical feedstocks to produce new circular plastics.
Further to the significant reduction in CO2 emissions and reducing plastic waste, Clean Planet Energy’s ‘Clean Planet Air’ will also help reduce other dangerous emissions associated with aviation. It claims that ‘Clean Planet Air’ emits 850x less poisonous nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and sulfur oxide (Sox) emissions than fossil-fueled transportation. This is likely to have a significant positive impact on human health, given that exposure to such emissions causes an estimated 9,000 early deaths daily worldwide.
While the project's primary goal is to reduce CO2 emissions, it will undoubtedly improve the global plastic-waste crisis by providing a method of recycling plastics that currently cannot be mechanically recycled.
Two ecoPlants have already been established at locations in the UK, and four more are currently in development. Clean Planet Energy is also working on its ecoPlant pipeline and is in talks with local authorities across the UK and Europe to establish multiple sites for its ecoPlants to run its operation on a large-scale.
Clean Planet Energy’s ‘Clean Planet Air’ will add to its growing repertoire of ultra-clean fuels, with its ultra-clean and zero-sulfur diesel fuel that meets the top EU EN15940 specifications and others that directly substitute fossil fuels in large ships. With the launch of its ultra-clean jet fuel, Clean Planet Energy is now helping to meet the clean fuel needs of automotive, sea, and air transport.
References and Further Reading
Clean Planet Launch Ultra-Clean Jet Fuel: 75% cut in CO2 emissions, made from non-recyclable plastic. Clean Planet Energy. Available at: https://www.cleanplanetenergy.com/post/clean-planet-launch-ultra-clean-jet-fuel-75-cut-in-co2-emissions-made-from-non-recyclable-plastic
Prata, J., da Costa, J., Lopes, I., Duarte, A. and Rocha-Santos, T., 2020. Environmental exposure to microplastics: An overview on possible human health effects. Science of The Total Environment, 702, p.134455. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969719344468
The world's plastic pollution crisis explained. Laura Parker. National Geographic. Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution
Working Towards Ambitious Targets. The International Air Transport Association. Available at: https://www.iata.org/en/programs/environment/climate-change/