New Machine Converts Plastics Back To Oil

This may well be one of the most revolutionary machines to hit the market, although, in a way, it couldn’t be simpler. Plastic chokes everything. Our water ways, including the Mediterranean. Camels and other animals. And given that it is made from petroleum products, it is a drain on our energy sources.

A Japanese man concerned about the environment his children have inherited dreamed up a way to convert plastic back into oil, reducing carbon emissions in the process. With all the plastic in the world still in existence, and peak oil on its way, plastic (and a machine like this) may soon become one of the world’s most prized commodities.

Conceived by Akinori Ito with the Blest Corporation, this machine can handle all kinds of plastics including  polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene. And they can be made in various sizes from small to large that can be used in a range of applications (personal to industrial).

Stuff the bags, caps, and other plastic packaging into the machine. Put on the lid. Flip a switch, and voila. A few minutes later the melted plastic releases gas through a tube. A beaker of tap water cools and then converts those gases into oil.

The oil can then be further refined into gasoline, diesel, or kerosene, and can power everything from cars to generators, or even used as is.

Heating the plastic with electricity instead of flames keeps emissions down (particularly compared to giant oil refineries). The process also requires 1kWh of electricity for every kilogram of plastic, which produces one liter of oil.

I’m floored that it took us this long to think about such a technology; in hindsight, it seems so simple. Plastic is made from oil but doesn’t decompose, so why not convert it back? Sheer genius.

If the fuel is re-used in vehicles, then further emissions will be released into the atmosphere. However, for every kilogram of plastic burned (ostensibly to get rid of it) 3kg of CO2 billows beyond; converting it back to oil initially spares 80% of those emissions.

Mr. Ito has carted his machine to developing countries and demonstrated to communities that plastic isn’t garbage, it’s fuel. That has transformed their thinking and inspired them to clean up after themselves.

I’m dreaming of a day when governments worldwide become wise to this technology and initiate massive plastic collection parties. Sign me up!


More on plastics in the Middle East:

Is the Mediterranean Harboring a Giant Plastic Patch?

Syria Campaigns to Curb Plastic Appetite

UAE Camels Killed By Choking on Plastic

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3 thoughts on “New Machine Converts Plastics Back To Oil”

  1. Tafline Laylin says:

    Hi Andrew. That seems unbelievable to me. Why every municipality on earth wouldn’t jump at such technology, I have no idea.

  2. Andrew says:

    Similar technology has existed since the mid 1990’s – it’s called Thermal Depolymerization (TDP). However with TDP, virtually any hydrocarbon or organic material can be used. Literally anything other then metals, glass or ceramics – which can be recycled in other ways.

    Why TDP hasn’t taken off I don’t know. There is only one full-scale TDP plant in operation in Carthage, Missouri which is set up to process turkey processing waste. However the company that owns it, Changing World Technology, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in March of 2009.

    If I could somehow manage the funding for such an operation, I know of several locations that would be ideal to place such a facility – where feedstock is plentiful and land is cheep.

  3. sir
    I am really amazed to see this Japanese technology…it is agreat beginning of a great adventure in fuels ..
    i wish all success
    At last a new way how to destroy plastics
    with best regards

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