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Essay

Kade Ayomikun

Year-Prize: The 11th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Beat Plastic Pollution

Comments 11 Comments    recommendations 1 recommendations

BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION

 

Kade Ayomikun (Nigeria)

Eco-generation Prize

 


I grew up in a third world country that prioritized rapid industrialization above environmental sustainability with the end result of highly unacceptable levels of toxic industrial wastes and effluent emissions. This realization first dawned on me when I paid my first visit to a popular neighbourhood in Lagos which is just one of the many regions which have become a municipal waste nightmare as a result of solid wastes, mainly as a result of plastic pollution. From the clogged waterways to considerable deaths of aquatic animals, displaced people and increased exposure of humans to varying level of diseases, particularly respiratory disorders, I began to feel the hardship they had experienced for many years. At the time, it looked like I could not do anything significant on this issue; I however learned over time that it was well within my capacity to ameliorate the situation. It was this drive to understanding the relationship between manufacturing processes (especially of industrial chemicals) and environmental pollution that led me to major in Environmental Toxicology and Pollution Management at Master’s level at the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Conversion of waste plastic to liquid fuel is an alternate energy source path, which can ease the pressure of using fossil fuel. The present rate of economic growth is unsustainable without saving of fossil energy like crude oil, natural gas or coal. International Energy Outlook 2010 estimates that the world consumption of liquid and petroleum products will grow from 86.1 million barrels per day in 2007 to 92.1 million barrels per day in 2020 and 103.9 million barrels per day in 2030 and natural gas consumption increases from 108 trillion cubic feet in 2007 to 156 trillion cubic feet in 2035. This way, the oil and gas reserve available can meet only 43 and 167 years respectively and mankind has to rely on the alternate/renewable energy sources like nuclear energy etc.
Polyethylene (PE) is the largest volume polymer product produced in the Chemical Industry, with over 100 million tons of yearly worldwide output. The chemical inertness of PE (strong, and non- or weakly polar C-C and C-H single bonds) is notable. Its natural degradation in the environment is extremely slow, and current technologies for its recovery, basically catalytic pyrolysis, are highly energy intensive, and non-selective.
Plastic waste is one of the major environmental issues and processes for the conversion of these plastics into other value-added products like diesel and other chemicals are scarce. An emerging
solution for this conversion is the use of olefin metathesis to breakdown the double bonds in the polymers.
Two closely related strategies can be applied towards the catalytic degradation of PE. First approach involves development of a one-pot, orthogonal tandem catalytic systems by first testing with isolated catalytic systems. These catalytic systems are homogeneous and heterogeneous developed for the dehydrogenation of PE. This would involve examination of acceptorless dehydrogenation acceptors that lead to value added chemicals. Once double bonds have been formed in the backbone of the polymer, they will be cleaved by ethenolysis, or other reversed ADMET, using homogeneous and heterogeneous olefin metathesis catalysts. The process will ultimately yield alpha, omega-diolefins, or functionalized diolefins, depending on the structure of the smaller olefin reagent.
In addition to the catalytic systems, small alkane reagents would be used to break down PE via
Catalytic Alkane Metathesis (CAM). One of the possible mechanisms of CAM can be explained
as the combination of three reactions: (a) dehydrogenation of the alkane reaction partners,
followed by (b) olefin cross metathesis of the resulting alkenes, and then (c) conversion of the
new alkenes into the corresponding alkanes by hydrogenation. Overall, higher density straight
chain alkanes of carbon length C9-C20, which is practically diesel fuel and other value added
chemicals would be generated as a result of economically and ecologically viable combinations
of dihydrogenation/hydrogenation and olefin metathesis catalysts developed to perform CAM of
saturated waste polymers.
This novel technique would allow using chemically resistant plastic waste as an alternative resource of fuel and building block chemicals, greatly contributing to the sustainability of human society and the environment; and thus assist in procuring viable solutions in finding economic solutions for the proper management of these wastes.
Renowned Environmentalist, Chief Seattle, said “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” I want to play my part as an environmental scientist in working to ensure the handover of a much friendlier and sustainable environment to posterity.

11 Comments

Pushpanjali Shrivastava

  • Pushpanjali Shrivastava says :
    A very effective effort to be undertaken. Thankyou and Congratulations!!
    Posted 10-08-2019 16:11

Manjesh Jha

  • Manjesh Jha says :
    Congrats kade.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:39

Aman Gangwar

  • Aman Gangwar says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 31-10-2018 19:33

Neha Singh

  • Neha Singh says :
    Congratulations Kade.
    Posted 30-10-2018 02:07

Vineeta Gaine

Dikhsa Negi

  • Dikhsa Negi says :
    Congratulations.
    Posted 24-10-2018 21:21

Kajal Saini

  • Kajal Saini says :
    Congratulations!
    Posted 24-10-2018 15:37

Archa B Jayan

Pio  Mwita

  • Pio Mwita says :
    Congrats Kade
    Posted 22-10-2018 22:19

KADE AYOMIKUN

  • KADE AYOMIKUN says :
    Thank you very much, Vraaj.
    Posted 22-10-2018 17:21

Viraaj Kulshreshtha

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