A couple weeks back we learned that the amount of plastic in landfills could be worth billions of dollars if it were mined and recycled. Well, if Plas2Fuel has any say in it, a good portion of that plastic (and other plastics that don't get trashed) should be turned into fuel. The Longview, Washington based company has a patent pending on a process by which plastic can be converted into synthetic crude oil. This is how it works:
Plastic to Crude Oil Process
Plas2Fuel describes the process:
Our process is relatively simple. Forced air, heated by a gas burner, is used to indirectly heat the feedstock inside the process vessel. The air is continually recycled in a loop to minimize heat loss.
The process vessel is isolated from oxygen and is exposed to a negative pressure (vacuum) environment. The energy transferred to the plastic feedstock from the burner is used to depolymerize, or "crack", the plastic into synthetic crude oil.
Oil is chromatographically removed from the waste plastic and aggregated from several vessels for on-site micro-refinement or sent to existing commercial refinement facilities.
Waste products are recycled for energy usage (gases), treated and reused or disposed (liquids), or made available for commercial use (solids).
Plas2Fuel says that on average it takes 8 pounds of plastic to make one gallon of synthetic crude oil using its procedure.
And What's the Carbon Footprint?
As the Portland Business Journal points out, a key question could dog the process: "Is it clear that the technology removes more greenhouse gases from the environment than it creates?"
To which Plas2Fuel's president and CEO Chris Ulum responded, "We haven't engaged a firm yet to do a carbon footprint analysis. We'll probably be doing that in the next few quarters."
Recycling plastic into other products is undeniably a good thing, but I'm not so sure converting it into fuel and burning it is the way to go. If you want a greener synthetic crude, algae is probably a better route to take.
via :: Portland Business Journal
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