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The pioneers tackle plastic waste at the University of Cardiff

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Plastic waste has become a marine threat, but could science help?


You've probably never thought much about the science of science

But it is used to help make almost everything you have, and to grow the food you eat.

Now scientists say it could also address some of the biggest environmental problems in the world. world.

A team of researchers from across the UK is working on projects that could eventually cut plastic waste, purify contaminated water and dirty air.

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Perhaps the most well-known catalytic converters are the converters used in the exhaust systems of vehicle engines.

What is catalysis?

Catalysis is the study of materials that accelerate chemical reactions.

They mix certain molecules and could take them for years to interact, but add a catalyst and they will do it in seconds.

The industry relies on them to produce everything from construction materials and fertilizers to medicines.

But they are probably best known for their use in vehicle exhaust systems, where they help break down toxic gases produced by automobile engines before they are released into the atmosphere.

Remark: the explosive chemistry that cleans the exhaust

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Professor Graham Hutchings predicted that work would make a difference in people's lives

How else could they be used to help the environment?

At the Institute of Catalysis at Cardiff University, they have only been given £ 7 million to try to answer this

The team principal, Professor Graham Hutchings, describes to its researchers as "pioneers of catalyst design."

They have already had great success in the development of a gold-based catalyst for the production of PVC. – one of the most commonly manufactured plastics.

It means that the mercury-based compounds that were previously used are being eliminated worldwide.

Now they want to find new ways to use catalysts to make Safe plastics are recycled effectively.

"Blue Planet really visually showed the problem that plastic is causing in our oceans," said Professor Hutchings.

"What interests us here is creating a circular Economy where the molecules go and being used, instead of ending up in a landfill or being burned in. That's a short-term solution that does not solve our global problems."

"We are analyzing the sources of point emissions such as power plants and the steel mill, seeing if we can use that CO2 and do something useful."

"What happens here will eventually make a difference in people's lives."

"Existing industrial processes can always be improved and we should always try to do so and minimize pollution. that comes from them. "

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