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October 2, 2023

BETO Announces Recycling Process That Can Transform Plastic Waste into “High-Value” Chemicals

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced on September 14, 2023, that a new process from the University of Wisconsin (UW) – Madison allows chemical engineers to transform plastic waste into “high-value” chemicals, “increasing the economic incentives for plastic recycling and creating novel pathways to recycle new types of plastics.” According to BETO, investigators led by Dr. George W. Huber, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UW-Madison and Director of the Center for the Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics (CUWP), have developed a new plastics recycling method based on two chemical processes: pyrolysis and hydroformylation. BETO states that “[r]esearchers estimate these processes will not only revolutionize plastics recycling, but could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the conventional production of these industrial chemicals by roughly 60 percent.” More information is available in the Science article, “Hydroformylation of pyrolysis oils to aldehydes and alcohols from polyolefin waste.”