Australian scientists use plastic to make steel

Reuters via Yahoo! News

Australian scientists have developed a technique to use waste plastic in steel making, a process that could have implications for recycling scrap metal that accounts for 40 percent of steel production.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla of the University of New South Wales has won a prestigious Australian science award for what she calls ‘the hottest research in town,’ which she hopes will turn an environmental headache into a valuable resource.

Under the process, waste plastics are fed into electric steel-making furnaces as an alternative source of carbon and heated to super-hot temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius (2,912 Fahrenheit).

Sahajwalla said many waste plastics, from shopping bags to dishwashing liquid containers and drink bottles, contain high enough levels of carbon to be useful in steelmaking.

PVC plastics, however, are not suitable, because of toxic gas release.

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