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!
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