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Oil alchemists turn plastic into black gold

Drilling for oil in unspoiled Alaska, destroying its wildlife and precious ecosystems, may be totally unnecessary thanks to recycled plastic bottles, say USA researchers.

Oil company Chevron and the University of Kentucky say that they can create plastic oil from drinks bottles, detailing the technical methods in a pilot study published by American Chemical Society's journal Energy & Fuels .

Chevron and Kentucky scientists converted waste plastic into lubricating oil for car engines, saying that the polyethylene-derived oils could help improve fuel economy and reduce the frequency of oil changes.

Of the plastic used in the study, 60% was converted into a wax with the right molecular properties for further processing to make high quality lubricating oil for car motor oil or transmission fluids.

If the idea catches on, there will be plenty of raw materials: Americans use 25 million tons of plastic each year - one million tons is recycled, the rest landfilled.

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