Thermodynamic feasibility of shipboard conversion of marine plastics to blue diesel for self-powered ocean cleanup
Belden, Elizabeth R.
Kazantzis, Nikolaos K.
Reddy, Christopher M.
Kite-Powell, Hauke L.
Timko, Michael T.
Herschbach, Dudley R.
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Collecting and removing ocean plastics can mitigate their environmental impacts; however, ocean cleanup will be a complex and energy-intensive operation that has not been fully evaluated. This work examines the thermodynamic feasibility and subsequent implications of hydrothermally converting this waste into a fuel to enable self-powered cleanup. A comprehensive probabilistic exergy analysis demonstrates that hydrothermal liquefaction has potential to generate sufficient energy to power both the process and the ship performing the cleanup. Self-powered cleanup reduces the number of roundtrips to port of a waste-laden ship, eliminating the need for fossil fuel use for most plastic concentrations. Several cleanup scenarios are modeled for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), corresponding to 230 t to 11,500 t of plastic removed yearly; the range corresponds to uncertainty in the surface concentration of plastics in the GPGP. Estimated cleanup times depends mainly on the number of booms that can be deployed in the GPGP without sacrificing collection efficiency. Self-powered cleanup may be a viable approach for removal of plastics from the ocean, and gaps in our understanding of GPGP characteristics should be addressed to reduce uncertainty.
© The Author(s), 2021. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Belden, E. R., Kazantzis, N. K., Reddy, C. M., Kite-Powell, H., Timko, M. T., Italiani, E., & Herschbach, D. R. Thermodynamic feasibility of shipboard conversion of marine plastics to blue diesel for self-powered ocean cleanup. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(46),(2021): e2107250118, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2107250118.
Suggested CitationBelden, E. R., Kazantzis, N. K., Reddy, C. M., Kite-Powell, H., Timko, M. T., Italiani, E., & Herschbach, D. R. (2021). Thermodynamic feasibility of shipboard conversion of marine plastics to blue diesel for self-powered ocean cleanup. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(46), e2107250118.
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