Lecture during the science camp of the University of Tartu
Workshops during the event of the Week of Wisdom in Tartu
Workshop and a lecture during the Researchers’ Night in Tartu
Ethylene Production – The Trends And The Impact
Ethylene is a versatile chemical compound used mostly for the production of plastic. Prognosis state that the production of ethylene is on the rise. At the same time other developments of bio-based ethylene production, other than from sugar cane in Brazil, have been slow, as the petrol-based ethylene production had a price drop due to the shale gas boom. But prognosis can’t foresee natural disasters - as a result of hurricane Harvey around 61% of the U.S. ethylene capacity has been closed. The most common production method of ethylene is hydrocarbon (most commonly naphtha) steam cracking. As naphtha is a non-renewable source, we need to find an environmentally friendly way of producing ethylene. Even though companies have started producing ethylene from ethanol, which in itself is a carbon-neutral process, its environmental impact is still similar to steam cracking. Our solution would, therefore, be more environmentally friendly.
During our brainstorming we did consider our environmental impact – even though our ethylene production would be environmentally friendly, we would still face the problem of the non-biodegradable plastic, which is left behind. Annually around 1 billion tons of waste are not recycled, mostly left in nature or illegal dumpsters. To counter this, there is a more or less annual garbage collecting event, which started in Estonia in 2008 - Let’s Do It. It has grown to a worldwide clean-up movement. Furthermore, in Estonia, we have a company - Plastrex, which does efficiently recycle plastic. Moreover, the new governmental waste management plan (for the years 2014-2020) focuses on the increase of recycling and reduction of disposable products like plates, bags and so on, as at the moment around 142 bags are used per person every year.