For those interested, the 4R Sustainability research report mentioned in the article can be found here: http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Plastics-to-Oil
A more recent study, also funded by the ACC, is an environmental and economic analysis of four plastics-to-energy conversion technologies: pyrolysis, gasification, plasma arc, and anaerobic digestion. That one can be found here: http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Sustainability-Recycling/Energy-Recovery/Environmental-and-Economic-Analysis-of-Emerging-Plastics-Conversion-Technologies.pdf
Great article Ann. Especially all the numbers and links to explore really help.
This tech should be a great money maker for equipment suppliers and small business using it to make fuel, thus money. The price of gasoline, diesel will be $10-11/gal in just 5 yrs in today's $ because of 4B new oil users.
Anyone know what plastic make what and exactly what is the problem with PET and about the 50% like it?
I'd like to do a Plastics to fuel unit just for kicks plus I might need one in the future. My EV's are fine for transport only needing fuel for long trips.
I'm amazed no comments about a tech that can about solve the plastics waste, pollution problem while helping solve others like fuel security. This is really important tech in so many ways making 50k jobs, helping energy security and nicely improving the quality of life, especially that in the water but ours too.
Doubt the govt would invest in this, even if it does make sense. Green "investment" is, IMO, about securing the votes of a particular group. This tech creates and burns (horrors) petroleum products. Combustion of any kind will be anethema to them.
Thanks for the additional links Ann. I've been following JBI for the last year. There's so much controversy around the way the comapny's being run, that it's interferring with the day-to-day progress.
It's a great idea given the world situation. If they can get more gov't contracts, wider appeal and use will follow.
The old phrase "follow the money" applies here though. I've noticed over the last few years, it seems to be in most industries and countries best interest to keep the price of oil high-even artificailly high. That's quite a shift from previous decades.
No doubt that we need viable alternatives but, as usual, the "how" and not the "what" needs to be examined.
Personally - I wish we could get the government out of all this. The whole economics and marketplace interaction between various green and "non-green" technologies is confused by introducing government money and mandates into the mix. Plus its picking winners and losers. Solyndra comes to mind.
That said, this is interesting technology with high potential. Right now, the company I work for ships all sorts of plastic scrap over to China. Whatever we cannot recover and use internally goes there. I have no idea what they do with it.
My guess is the situation at my company is just a microcosm of the plastics industry and would be curious to know how many other plastics processors do the same. Maybe at some point it would pay for processors to recover energy from their scrap - if reusing the plastic itself isn't feasible.
Tim and naperlou, these technologies, primarily pyrolysis, could not be widely used previously because they are just on the verge of scaling up. One of the reasons it's taken so long is because of widespread misunderstanding of what pyrolysis is and what it entails, on the part of both law-makers and citizens/voters. Much of this has been due to confusion about its name and what it means, and to confusing this technology with those that do, in fact, burn. However, even those that do, like WTE, are, by law, entirely closed-loop emission-contained systems.
Dennis, I'm not sure which technology you mean that "burns," but the main one mentioned in this article, pyrolysis, does not. Despite the Greek word for "fire" at the root of "pyrolysis," when applied to the chemical conversion of plastics the term doesn't mean burning or incineration. As the article states, "Pyrolysis is the thermochemical decomposition of a material without the presence of air or oxygen." As just mentioned, even WTE, which does burn, is by law an entirely closed-loop emission-contained system. Today, this is a non-issue, at least in the US.
Jerry dycus; One of the 'small' units produces 1 gallon of oil per hour. Another 'small' unit consumes 22 lbs of plastic and produces 2.7 gallons of oil per hour. How would you feed one of these ? How much plastic waste do you think a household would generate ? And would it be the best 'grade' of plastic to feed one of theswe systems ? I think this is a great concept, but I don't think it would be a good fit for household use, yet. Also, I have looked into wind turbines, but not really seriously - the wind where I live is not enough to power one. I like the idea of solar for household water heating. I don't know if the efficiency of photovoltaic cost-justifies a single-home system.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.