How to Turn a Corncob into Plastic Bottles
This article is an update to a previous article: "Plastic Bottles from Carbon Dioxide and a Furfural Derivative"
Most of the 270 billion plastic bottles used in the U.S. each year are derived from petroleum. And that manufacturing contributes to a global greenhouse gas hit of more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide each year — the same amount about 150 coal power plants generate annually. Some plastics companies are attempting to cut that footprint by substituting corn-based sugar for petroleum. But planting, fertilizing and harvesting corn generates significant carbon emissions, too, says researcher Matt Kanan (Standford University), where they developed a process that turns furfural into a precursor to make plastic bottles:
1. Convert the corncobs into furfural
2. Make furoic acid (a common food additive) from the furfural.
3. Mix hot furoic acid with CO2 to make 2-5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA).
4. FCDA is a precursor for making polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), which is an attractive replacement for PET.
NB: Worldwide, about 50 million tons of PET are produced each year for items such as fabrics, electronics, recyclable beverage containers and personal-care products.
DalinYebo's Comment: Corncobs can be removed from the fields without any negative impact on soil health. Actually, they take a few years to decompose and initially take nitrogen from the soil during the decomposition process!