Polystyrene is pretty much an environmentalist's nightmare. It's difficult to recycle in most areas and does not biodegrade if simply thrown away. But, because the stuff is so incredibly useful, it is produced and used in tremendous quantities. There's good news for biodiesel fans who want to reduce the amount of polystyrene in the environment and want to get a bit more kick out of their biofuel.

Two researchers at Iowa State University, Najeeb Kuzhiyil and Song-Charng Kong, have found that it is easy to dissolve packing peanuts into biodiesel; the enhanced biodiesel then produced more power in a diesel engine, as long as the polystyrene makes up no more than five percent of the biodiesel. The downside is that harmful emissions also increased. This is not too surpising, since petroleum is often used to make the styrofoam in the first place. According to Kong, quoted in New Scientist, the polystyrene cups dissolved quickly in biodiesel, "like a snowflake in water."

[Source: Energy & Fuels via New Scientist]
Photo by complexify. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.


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