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COVID-19: Disposed Personal Protective Equipment Could Be Turned Into Biofuel, Say Indian Scientists

According to a study published in the journal Biofuels, billions of items of disposable Personal Protective Equipment can be converted from its plastic state into biofuels using a high-temperature chemical process

COVID-19: Disposed Personal Protective Equipment Could Be Turned Into Biofuel, Say Indian Scientists
Highlights
  • Natural degradation of plastic is difficult: Researchers
  • Because of COVID-19 pandemic, the use of PPEs has increased: Experts
  • Biofuel produced from plastic is similar to fossil fuel: Experts

Dehradun: Indian scientists have suggested a method to convert the plastic used in personal protective equipment (PPE) into renewable liquid fuels, an advance that could help mitigate the problem of dumped PPE, currently being disposed of at unprecedented levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, published in the journal Biofuels, billions of items of disposable PPE can be converted from its plastic state into biofuels using a high-temperature chemical process called pyrolysis.

Also Read: COVID-19 Waste: CPCB’s New Guidelines Advise Households To Cut And Store Waste Masks, Gloves For 3 Days Before Disposing Of

Sapna Jain, lead author of the study from The University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, noted in a statement,

The transformation into biocrude — a type of synthetic fuel will not just prevent the severe after-effects to humankind and the environment but also produce a source of energy. Presently, the world is focusing to combat COVID-19, however, we can foresee the issues of economic crisis and ecological imbalance also. We have to prepare ourselves to meet the challenges which are forcefully imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, so as to maintain sustainability.

She said the disposal of PPE is a concern owing to its material — non-woven polypropylene (plastic) — adding that these are being designed for single-use followed by disposal.

According to the researchers, when these plastic materials are discharged into the environment they end up in landfill or oceans, as their natural degradation is difficult at ambient temperature. Ms. Jain said,

They need decades to decompose. Recycling these polymers requires both physical methods and chemical methods.

She said the proposed strategy is a suggestive measure addressing the anticipated problem of disposal of PPE. In the study, the scientists explored the current policies around the disposal of PPEs, their polypropylene content, and the feasibility of converting them into biofuel. They focused on the structure of polypropylene, its suitability for PPE, why it poses an environmental threat, and methods of recycling the plastic material.

Also Read: Over 1.60 Lakh Healthcare Facilities In Country Operating Without Permission: Central Pollution Control Board

Based on their analysis, the scientists call for the PPE waste to be converted into fuel using pyrolysis — a chemical process for breaking down the plastic at high temperature between 300 to 400 degree Celsius for an hour without oxygen.

Pyrolysis is the most commonly used chemical method whose benefits include the ability to produce high quantities of bio-oil which is easily biodegradable. There is always a need for alternative fuels or energy resources to meet our energy demands. The pyrolysis of plastics is one of the methods to mitigate our energy crisis, study co-author Bhawna Yadav Lamba said.

She said the challenges of PPE waste management and increasing energy demand could be addressed simultaneously by the production of liquid fuel from PPE kits.

The liquid fuel produced from plastics is clean and has fuel properties similar to fossil fuels, she said.

Also Read:  COVID-19: Delhi’s Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facilities Under Pressure Due To Increased Load

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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