Chemists propose recycling Christmas trees for fuel

(ORDO NEWS) — Every year, millions of Christmas and New Year trees go to landfills after the holidays, which is not only wasteful, but also contributes to global warming.

Now, chemists from Spain and the UK have proposed using dried trees as raw materials for the production of fuels and valuable chemicals.

Every year, celebrating New Year and Christmas, people around the world buy up to 120 million live Christmas trees: only in the USA this figure reaches 20-40 million trees, and in the UK – six to eight million.

Most of these trees go to landfills after the holidays, where each emits up to 16 kilograms of greenhouse gases, including methane.

It is a gas that is many times superior to carbon dioxide in its ability to retain heat in the atmosphere.

Previously, Spanish researchers found that old pine needles can be used to produce biomass, which can then serve as a raw material in the chemical industry – in particular, sweeteners and paints can be made from it.

Now the researchers have decided to improve the current technology in order to achieve the production of valuable chemicals using the most affordable reagents.

Previously, a metal catalyst was required to carry out the desired reaction , but this time the researchers decided to do without it, instead adding baking soda to the reaction mixture.

As a result of the processing of pine needles, chemists were able to obtain formic acid , a valuable chemical substance that has recently found increasing use in fuel and other industries.

Due to its high hydrogen content and thermal and chemical stability, formic acid is a promising way to store and transport hydrogen fuel.

Also, this substance is used in the production of leather and rubber, antiseptics and preservatives.

By the way, not only withered Christmas trees are suitable as raw materials.

A similar reaction can be carried out, for example, with sugar cane cake, which makes the biomass processing procedure relevant all year round.

So far, the new way of producing biofuels has limitations: it is less competitive compared to the oil industry, where access to raw materials is constant and does not depend on the season.

But the researchers hope that recycling at least some of the old trees will reduce annual greenhouse emissions and reduce the carbon footprint.

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