Researchers at Stanford University have discovered a new method of creating plastic using carbon dioxide and inedible biomass. Currently, plastic is made from a polymer called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which has components derived from refined petroleum and natural gas. As a result, producing PET contributes heavily to global warming. According to Matthew Kanan, an assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford, manufacturing PET “generates more than four tons of CO2 for every ton of PET that's produced.” Therefore, Kanan and his team developed a green alternative to plastic called polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), which is a product of ethylene glycol and a compound called 2-5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). They were successful in producing FDCA by combining carbonate with carbon dioxide and furoic acid, which is a compound made from agricultural waste. An added advantage of renewable plastic is that the carbon dioxide in the PEF products can be converted to its atmospheric state, which can be absorbed back by plants. While this environment friendly plastic is a promising product, the researchers are yet unsure if it would be possible to produce it on an industrial scale.
Read more in Science Daily.