Turning CO2 into plastic

In the future, your plastic drink bottles and plastic computer cases could be made out of smokestack emissions. At least, that’s what Science Daily says about news from the American Chemical Society meeting. Chemists are very excited about using carbon dioxide emissions as a raw material for making polycarbonate plastic. One of the authors of the report, Thomas Muller, said, “Using CO2 to create polycarbonates might not solve the total carbon dioxide problem, but it could be a significant contribution.”

It’s tempting to snort “Oh, great, MORE cheap plastic crap.” In fact, as I was writing this, there was significant cynical snortage. But a solution that a) makes it economically desirable to reduce the amount of emissions going into the atmosphere; and b) turns something harmful into something useful is a good solution in my book. It’s not the Magical Fix-Everything Plan that puts a unicorn in every pot – obviously, as the state of the North Pacific Gyre demonstrates, we’ve got to get a lot better about reusing and recycling the plastic that we’ve already got. But wouldn’t it be neat to have a DVD made out of smoke?

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3 Responses to Turning CO2 into plastic

  1. Wow, this *is* interesting. I’ll have to keep an eye on it in the future.

    Also, I really like your banner photo.

  2. Thanks, Susan. I took it last summer off Pt Loma in San Diego.

  3. Nafe says:

    The first question that springs to mind regarding this issue is, how energy intensive is the process?

    I mean, it’s great that chemists have come up with a way to do this, but if it requires a significant investment of fossil fuels to power the reaction, a bit of the shine comes off the plastic apple.

    Definitely worth keeping an eye on though…

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