One of the greatest environmental problems for the planet is our continuous use of plastic. Not only is it made from oil but it takes a very very long time to break down, in fact never entirely doing so. So far modern recycling concentrate on efforts to reuse the plastic for more plastic, but in many parts of the world more plastic isn’t what’s needed. What they need is gasoline, fuel for their homes and for their vehicles.
Going through trials at the moment is a process called Thermal depolymerization. This is the process of sorting polymers into petroleum. Its great advantage over other types of recycling is that it can use any form of polymer including the biopolymers in feathers. This image from Discover, shows how much oil 100 pounds of waste produces.
To test this system a pilot plant in Cathage, Missouri was built to recycle turkey waste. It was first reported on in 2003, in Discover, and it’s a long article. Although the plant has stopped using turkey offal to make fuel it does take other forms of waste material.
But that’s on a commercial scale. Ona much smaller scale , a Japanese company, Blest, has developed a small, table top device which can take any plastic and make it oil, which can then be processed further to make fuel which can be used in motorbikes or cars. This video demonstrates exactly how it works, but in essence it super heats, at a regular temperature 1 Kg of plastic and produces 1 liter of oil for just 1 Kw of energy.
As we recognize that we’re unlikely to move away from using oil for the foreseeable future, making the use of the things that we have is one possible solution to creating a greener world and ifsmall systems can be used in communities which have a lot of plastic but expensive fuel it could be worth the investment.