Turning Plastic Waste Into Fuel Using Infrared Energy

By on September 19th, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009 14:56

plasticfuelWith the world still very much dependent on petroleum-based oil, there is constant struggle for engineers to try to obtain this liquid from cheap and abundant materials. The idea of using the plastic waste as a gross material isn’t pretty new, but only recently a company has devised a method of producing oil more efficiently from plastic.

The problem with common machines that undertake this process is that they cost to much money to make the conversion and they often get blocked by loads of material that cannot be processed. But Envion, a company from Washington D.C., uses a new technique, in which the plastic waste is heated using electricity and not at an open fire,  to a very precise and careful temperature sequence, using infrared energy.

They announced that they will a open a new $5 million facility that would operate 6,000 tons of waste in a year, converting it into a liquid, very much like conventional oil, in smell and substance. It can then be mixed with other ingredients and sold as car fuel. The cleaning of the machines, for stuck left-overs is predicted to happen two to four times a year (usual facilities get clogged much more often).

The machines will “digest” just about every kind of plastic, except the PET bottles, which have a higher price on the market.  The quality of the plastic is important for the end product, but in average one ton of waste will produce 3-5 barrels of “burning liquid“. In order to generate a barrel the machines will consume somewhere between 59 and 98 kilowatt-hours, coming to a price of 7-12 cents per gallon. That’s about the amount of electricity a normal household would use in two or three days.

Source: NY Times


Posted in category Biofuel, Experiments
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