Engineers have figured out a way to reduce plastic landfill, and you won’t believe how they’re doing it

 | Vicki Batts  06/04/2018 9:02 AM MDT
Plastic Cups
Credit: PUblic Domain

(Natural News) Humans have generated an enormous amount of plastic waste over the last few decades – there is no question about that. It’s estimated that between 1950 and 2015, a staggering 8.3 billion tons of plastic was produced. And, as one might expect, a sad majority of it has ended up in landfills. The question of what there is we can do to re-purpose all that garbage is one that’s plagued many scientists and activists — perhaps, until now. A team of engineers from Purdue University has found a way to turn leftover ink-free plastic into parts for batteries.

Could these new batteries be the answer to our plastic problem?

Turning plastic waste into “better” batteries

Lithium-sulfur ion batteries are set to replace lithium ion batteries in the near future; they’re cheaper to make and are more energy dense. But there’s one caveat: they only last for about 100 uses. This ultimately means even more waste, but the researchers at Purdue have found a way to expand the life cycle of lithium-sulfur ion batteries with recycled plastic. But is that enough to make it worth the effort?

The team of engineers recently published their work in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Their process involves putting plastic soaked in sulfur into a microwave, which then “transforms the material into the ideal substance for increasing the lifespan of the forthcoming batteries to more than 200 charging-discharging cycles.”

The plastic is turned into “carbon scaffolding,” which ultimately increases battery life by preventing what’s called the “polysulfide shuttling effect.” The shuttling effect is what limits the lifespan of lithium-sulfur ion batteries.

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