Stanford University discovers new way to make plastic from carbon dioxide and plants

10 March 2016 (Last Updated March 10th, 2016 18:30)

Researchers at the Stanford University have discovered a new way to make plastic from CO2 and inedible plant materials such as agriculture waste and grass.

Researchers at the Stanford University have discovered a new way to make plastic from CO2 and inedible plant materials such as agriculture waste and grass.

According to researchers, this new innovative technology could provide an alternative to plastic bottles and other products made out of petroleum.

Stanford University assistant professor of chemistry Matthew Kanan said: "Our goal is to replace petroleum-derived products with plastic made from CO2.

"If you could do that without using a lot of non-renewable energy, you could dramatically lower the carbon footprint of the plastics industry."

"Our goal is to replace petroleum-derived products with plastic made from CO2."

Many plastic products are made out of a polymer called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol are used to make PET and these are derived from natural gas and refined petroleum.

Kanan added: "The use of fossil-fuel feedstocks, combined with the energy required to manufacture PET, generates more than four tons of CO2 for every ton of PET that's produced."

The researchers focused on finding an alternative to PET and came up with polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF). PEF is made from thylene glycol and a compound called 2-5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA).

Kannan said: "We believe that our chemistry can unlock the promise of PEF that has yet to be realised.

"This is just the first step. We need to do a lot of work to see if it is viable at scale and to quantify the carbon footprint."