Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Turning Plastic Bags into Carbon Nanotubes

Researchers at The University of Adelaide have announced that they have a new process for making carbon nanotubes from plastic bags. This is all well and good, but you can probably anticipate the environmental "spin" that they will put on it:
" 'Non-biodegradable plastic bags are a serious menace to natural ecosystems and present a problem in terms of disposal,' says Professor Dusan Losic, ARC Future Fellow and Research Professor of Nanotechnology in the University's School of Chemical Engineering. 'Transforming these waste materials through 'nanotechnological recycling' provides a potential solution for minimising environmental pollution at the same time as producing high-added value products.' "
That wasn't too hard to predict, was it? Because we can now take your trash plastic bags and make something really valuable with them, people will be much more careful with disposing of them properly.

I am very skeptical as people easily could have reacted in such a pro-environmental manner when it was announced that the 2-D cousin of nanotubes - graphene - could be made from pretty much anything including chocolate, plastic, grass, dog poop, cockroach legs and even Girl Scout Cookies. But they didn't. And they won't now either.

It's a nice piece of research, but nothing earth shattering, or maybe more to the point here, nothing earth saving. At least they didn't mention this as a motivation for cleaning up the plastic in the ocean gyres.

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