Turning Waste Plastic Into useable Fuel
While we are not advocating burning oil to heat homes and commercial buildings, the reality is that that is the source of much of our heat. A new technology is immerging that promises to at least lighten the burden of that, and hopefully slow our extraction of oil.
plastic in a landfill © creative commons
Though we all diligently cart our plastic to the curb for recycling, the sad reality is that only about 7% of it is commercially viable for recycling, the rest ends up as landfill.
Plastic is a petroleum product that until now has been very inconsistent and unstable when returned to an oil form. Recently a North American fuel company called Plastic2Oil, has developed a process that can consistently transform unsorted, unwashed waste plastic into ultra-clean, ultra-low sulphur fuel requiring no further refinement.
Breaking down at various purities, this low-emission processing technique delivers predominantly heating oil and diesel transportation fuel, but has a use for all its by-products including running the processor itself which uses its own off-gases as fuel (approximately 10-12% of process output).
The emissions documented by CRA (carbon footprint analysis) from the P2O stack test were lower than what would be produced by the same test on a natural gas furnace of similar size.John Bordynuik, President & CEO.
There is no question that what we are talking about here is still burning fossil fuels. The difference in this case, is that these fossil fuels have effectively seen the end of their useful life, and are now clogging up our landfills, waterways and oceans.
Fuel processing plant © Plastic2Oil
Even if we had government commitment and action, transforming our energy infrastructure from fossil fuels to renewables will be an arduous process that will take decades. Without government cooperation as we are seeing, that will be even more drawn out.
Our world presently runs on oil, and it will require oil through manufacturing, transportation and construction to transform our societies into sustainable ones. It’s possible that this sort of technology will be part of that process.
Aside from landfills we also have in the South Pacific what is known as ‘Garbage Island’, where converging ocean currents have brought together a floating debris pile (mostly plastic) the size of Texas. Having no commercial value and no one to take ownership of it, it simply continues to grow.
We are leaving countless ecological disasters for the next generation, and frivolously using the resources they will need to clean up our mess. Perhaps technologies like this will help lessen the burden.