Categories
Materials

341: Ruthenium

Problem:

Transforming plastic waste into high-value chemicals requires substantial energy.

Solution:

A ruthenium carbon catalyst


Julie Rorrer and a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have combined a ruthenium-carbon catalyst and mild, lower-energy reaction conditions to convert plastics used in bottles and other packaging into fuels and chemical feedstock.

Previous studies have shown that noble metals, such as zirconium, platinum and ruthenium, can catalyze the process of splitting apart short, simple hydrocarbon chains and complicated, plant-based lignin molecules at moderate reaction temperatures requiring less energy than other techniques.

So, Yuriy Román-Leshkov and colleagues wanted to see if metal-based catalysts would have a similar effect on solid polyolefins with long hydrocarbon chains, disintegrating them into usable chemicals and natural gas. They do.

Discover Solution 342: Solar Cloth and film

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