Researchers Produce Energy from Plastic Waste

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. renewable / rɪˈnu ə bəl / (adj) – describing something that does not run out when used

    Finding renewable energy sources will reduce our need to burn fossil fuels.

  2. bring an end to (something) / brɪŋ ən ɛnd tə / (idiom) – to put a stop to something

    The factory’s closing brought an end to the city’s problem with air pollution.

  3. sort / sɔrt / (v) – to arrange some things according to type or kind

    He sorted his clothes according to color.

  4. melt / mɛlt / (v) – to turn something solid into liquid

    Metals melt when at very high temperatures.

  5. by-product / ˈbaɪˌprɒd əkt / (n) – an unplanned result of something

    Harmful gases are by-products of producing electricity from fossil fuels.


Read the text below.

Researchers from the University of Chester in England developed a new technology that can produce energy from unrecyclable plastic waste.

The innovation was a result of the partnership between the university’s Energy Centre and PowerHouse Energy Group, a company that specializes in developing renewable energy equipment. It is the first technology in the world to use plastic waste to produce energy while also helping bring an end to plastic pollution.

Through this new technology, plastic waste does not even need to be cleaned or sorted to be usable. To produce energy, dirty plastics are simply cut into five-centimeter strips and then melted at 1,000 degrees Celsius. As the strips melt, they emit different gases that are then turned into fuel.

Joe Howe, a professor at the university’s Thornton Energy Research Institute, explained that electricity and fuel are by-products of the entire process. This means that plastic waste could be an important source of fuel for cars and electricity for many cities in the future.

The technology was tested for two years at a facility in the University of Chester. In its next testing phase, the researchers will try to use the technology to power a 54-acre plant in England. They will also try it on 7,000 houses for one day and on 7,000 hydrogen-powered cars.

If the tests succeed, the developers plan to release the technology in Asia. They are planning to introduce it in Japan and parts of Southeast Asia through a partnership with Waste2Tricity (W2T), an organization that supports projects that seek to generate energy from waste.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that this technology should be widely used all over the world? Why or why not?
• If energy from waste becomes available in many countries, do you think it will be cheaper or more expensive than traditional energy (e.g. electricity and fuel)? Explain your answer.

Discussion B

• If you were to develop a technology that could solve one global issue, what kind of technology would it be? Discuss.
• In which countries would you release this technology? Why?