A Japanese inventor has figured out a way to convert plastic grocery bags, bottles and caps back into the petroleum from whence they came, providing a ready fuel source for individual homes that also diverts waste from landfills.
Akinori Ito's plastic recycling machine heats up waste plastic, traps vapors in a system of pipes and water chambers, and condenses the vapors into crude oil, explains the website Clean Technica. It's not the first machine to do this — a massive plant outside Washington, D.C., is testing the process, for instance — but it's small enough for household use.
Ito's machine turns two pounds of plastic into a quart of oil, using only one kilowatt-hour of energy. The crude oil can be used in some types of generators or it can be further refined into gasoline, Clean Technica reports.
Ito is selling it through his Blest Corp., but buyer beware: As of now, it will set you back about $10,000. Ito hopes the price will drop as demand and production increase.
Other plastic-recycling methods find creative new uses for the material, for instance turning oil booms into new Chevy Volts or building new boats to sail the Pacific. Ito's invention is interesting because it puts the plastic back into the pipeline, as it were. This is definitely not carbon-neutral — burning the oil releases greenhouse gases — but it's environmentally friendly in that it can divert non-biodegradable waste from landfills. And make you feel less guilty next time you forget your canvas grocery bags.
Cool. But the price is very prohibitive right now... and since we don't all own refineries or petroleum generators, what would we do with the resulting fuel?
-IMP ;) :)
Mr. Fusion, anyone!?
If your car is powered by a cyclone steam engine, then you can just pour it straight into your gas tank and go! You could save over two dollars per gallon of gas with this thing.
I'm curious, however. How long does it take for it to convert 2 pounds of plastic into a quart of crude oil?
And yeah, the lower the initial cost gets, the better.
this is old news. that inventor invented that machine AT LEAST a year ago.
I'm hopeful for this one to take hold, for the sake of our oceans.
I have a better cheaper solution....stop using plastic! Or at the very least have all plastic be #1 or #2 that way it can all be recycled.
Well, $10 000 is really not that much, considering that the device is more or less on a working pototype level. Just to put things into perspective, the first +40" LCDs retail prices were somewhere in the same range when they entered the market in the early 2000's.
Mass production and higher volumes tend to reduce costs, unless there is a catch. And with these kinds of devices there usually is.
I have a slight, but definitive suspicion that long term maintenance of the recycling machine can turn out to be an issue. If not, great!
"this is old news. that inventor invented that machine AT LEAST a year ago."
Yup. I'm guessing slow news day... Cheers.
This uses heat to turn plastic into a liquid, which can then be burned as fuel for heat (which can be refined for movement, converted to electricity, or used as a heat source through an oil-based heater/boiler). Cost $10,000.
I can take the same plastic, throw it in my fireplace when I am heating only with it (a few months in the spring/fall) and turn the plastic into a liquid which is burnt as fuel for heat. Cost - $0.01 for the match.
The simple truth is that plastic is going to be put into the environment every time. Buried, photo-decomposed into ocean particulate, burned, broken down and burned (this process), or reused in a secondary product that only delays its return to the environment.
So, the greenest thing you can do (other than to not buy plastics in the first place), is to have them usefully burned (preferable at the industrial scale where air controls are tighter - plasma arc perfered, though traditionanl also works).
Oh, and the greenest way to recycle paper? Compost.
Do recycle your metals, however, as there is real energy savings to be had there.
You get yourself a Bloom Box (youtube: A6DLyruTqHI), save the money you would otherwise spend on energy from your grid provider and pay the few grand off in a few years.
That is great, but the toxins that come from burning plastic is more deadly to humans and animals than burning coal, oil or natural gas. If Akinori Ito can find a chemical that can dissolve plastic and turn it back to oil and it is safe for the common human to use, that would be even better.
Doesn't sound like a real useful home item. Seems smarter to just recycle the plastic bags, bottles, and what not and let a company turn this stuff into oil.
next invention: home oil refinery.
way more expensive, and therefore profitable, than solar panels, or another "clever" idea, household batteries.
@JamesDavis: Toxicity of fumes depends entirely of the type of plastic. The range is everything from harmless (e.g. polyethenes) to seriously toxic (polystyrene and PVC spring to mind).
How toxic the recycled "oil" is depends on what compounds have gone into the plastic in the first place, I guess. PVC contains chlorine, for example. Not something you would want to burn, and definitely not at your home. Another question are plastics containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. From the little college chemistry I studied back when we had to run and hide from the woolly mammoths and sabre toothed tigers, these compounds are extremely hard to break down to their constituent parts. Then, of course, you have all the additives, such as phthalates, lead and other kinds of gunk that is used to enhace certain characteristics of plastics, that will not get rid of.
An entirely another question is, does an average household generate so much discardable plastics that this is worthwhile?
the answer is, surprisingly enough, yes.
So, I'll wait for the price to come down to a thousand, then wait a couple of years to collect 2 lbs of plastic bags and then walk around with my useless quart of petroleum to show my friend how smart I am! Can't wait for it!
Great invention must say, till now heard lot many things about recycling plastic, but this one is totally different. If this technique of converting plastic to fuel really successful then it should be done on larger basis. Replas also doing such work of recycling plastic in different manners.
I remember seeing my first LCD or plasma TV hanging on the wall at Ultimate Electronics. The thing couldn't have been over 24" inches in size. Price tag? $16,0000. I said to myself then, as I am now - the price will drop precipitously - given enough interest and volume sold. Sure enough...now the average Joe can buy a 3D, 82 inch, HDTV for under two grand. The problem is people aren't as interested in spending cash to save the environment as they are entertainment...so we'll see.