Finally, a purpose for plastic bags

Goumbook.com / June 2, 2011

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Plastic bags could be converted into fuel if a Masdar

Institute researcher’s proposal becomes a reality.

Rana

Qudaih, a Palestinian who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi,

said she was developing methods of reducing plastic waste.

Through thermal chemical conversion, allowing nitrogen to

decompose at high temperatures and pressure in the absence of

oxygen, Ms Qudaih can produce oil and gases that could be used

as sources of energy, she said.

They could also be used

as substitutes for petroleum-based feedstock, fuel that is used

in industrial machines.

Ms Qudaih, 24, who received a

bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the American

University of Sharjah, said: “I’m very interested in

converting waste to energy.”

She said that after she

graduated from Masdar Institute next Sunday, she hoped to

become a specialist in the renewable energy sector.

Ms

Qudaih explained that another method of converting plastic

involved mixing different proportions of silane polyethylene

waste, a significant amount of which is generated by the

electric cable industry.

By infusing different amounts,

the recycled material could be stronger with better mechanical

properties.

It could then be moulded and used in

different applications.

“To either convert the plastic

waste into a new product, like the fuel, or to recycle the

material depends on your objective or interests,” Ms Qudaih

said.

She said she hoped to develop both methods

commercially and estimated nearly 70 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s

waste is low-density polyethylene, such as plastic bags.

The Emirates produces up to 8,000 tonnes of plastic film, the

material in bags and wrapping, every month.

Consumers in

the UAE use about 2 billion plastic bags a year, though the

government has taken some steps to eventually ban them.

“It is important to find efficient solutions to reduce low-

density polyethylene waste and its impact on the environment,”

she said.

Ms Qudaih conducted much of her research using

discarded electric cables from a local manufacturing company.

As for life after Masdar, Ms Qudaih said she might seek

a doctorate and continue her study as applied research, adding

that Masdar Institute had prepared her for another degree.

Erin

Conroy, The National

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