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Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the thar-be-oil-in-them-thar-'fills dept.

Power 139

rtoz writes: A MIT spinout company aims to end the landfilling of plastic with a cost-effective system that breaks down nonrecycled plastics into oil, while reusing some of the gas it produces to operate. To convert the plastics into oil, this new system first shreds them. The shreds are then entered into a reactor — which runs at about 400 degrees Celsius — where a catalyst helps degrade the plastics' long carbon chains. This produces a vapor that runs through a condenser, where it's made into oil. Much of the system's innovation is in its continuous operation (video). This company aims to produce more refined fuel that recyclers can immediately pump back into their recycling trucks, without the need for oil refineries. Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills, so there is a huge demand for this technology.

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Equilibrium, we must need! (2, Insightful)

ramorim (1257654) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283711)

If this technology is so good like they said, and many companies (or better: governments) adopt such ways of transforming plastic into fuel, we can organize all the World plastic waste in to TWO recycle ways: produce FUEL and recycle PLASTIC. We don't need to transform all the plastic waste into fuel. The industry still needs plastic in their products so with a better equilibrium we can reduce the petroleum extraction (a.k.a.: dependency), try to utilize all the annual plastic waste, and (better) we can contribute with the environment with less pollution, in the air and in the ground (I think).

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283809)

I suspect that it's easier to just make it into oil, even the techically 'recyclable' plastics, due to contamination with dyes and other such things: I suspect making clear or lighter-colored plastics from recycled stuff is hard if not impossible, though dark colors may be easy enough to work with.

On the other hand, it's probably going to be easier(in terms of cost, energy etc) to just make oil out of all of it which goes into reducing fuel consumption, and use that oil for making new plastic.

Or this (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283959)

Or this work:
http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdf/10... [aiaa.org]
Green Aerospace Fuels from Non-Petroleum Sources (2011)

http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdf/10... [aiaa.org]
"Aerospace Fuels from Non-Petroleum Sources" (2013)

Re:Or this (2)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284137)

Install on floatation device, Pacific Ocean garbage patch, lather, rinse, repeat.

Re:Or this (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | about a month ago | (#47284653)

You would never go hungry.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (1)

ramorim (1257654) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284211)

You have an interesting point. If (and only if) the process of making oil from plastic were (1) LESS EXPENSIVE than recycle used plastic into new plastic for the industry AND (2) the oil produced could be used into the plastic industry in a way it could be at least the same cost in comparison with the petroleum-to-plastic traditional industry way, it will be better to just transform all the world plastic waste into oil, and then redirect its final product to (A) fuel for machines and (B) the plastic industry. But I don't have any data and this is only a speculation.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285447)

More importantly is that only A or B will likely be the best use, not both. Comparative advantage.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283971)

They have been doing this in South American countries for years. Venezuela and Brazil. And its more of a gasoline that comes out and not oil. The Oil companies most likely have been suppressing this info here for years as well.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (1)

ramorim (1257654) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284221)

They have been doing this in South American countries for years. Venezuela and Brazil. And its more of a gasoline that comes out and not oil. The Oil companies most likely have been suppressing this info here for years as well.

Do you have some link to share with us about this process made in Brazil and Venezuela? I't would be interesting to learn more about it.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284399)

Brazil runs mostly on ethenol produced from sugarcane.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (1)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284539)

Never heard of it, but I do know car in Brazil are sold set up to run on ethanol, and at least for a few years there was a lot of ethanol in gas (30-40%).

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283977)

That's not what equilibrium means.

Carbon in the air!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284503)

Nothing is free.

Re:Equilibrium, we must need! (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a month ago | (#47285219)

If it gets good enough to be worth the effort, we can put it on giant barges and go mine out the Great Atlantic Garbage Patch for plastic, and get that embarrassment to humanity cleaned up.

Ocean garbage patches? (3, Interesting)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283719)

Why even bother with the landfills? There are massive garbage patches floating around in the oceans, the vast majority of which are plastics. If you can get a big enough tanker and implement this system on it, you could probably cut the amount of fuel needed even further - the tanker goes into a garbage patch, melts all the plastic down, keeps the oil, and uses some of it to get back to land. It would probably be more effective than loading fleets of trucks.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283773)

This. With modern simple filtering systems, you should be able to filter even the tiny particles out of the water and turn them into oil.

However, we really need to do both: One set of these devices for breaking down plastic that would otherwise be landfilled(and help pay for garbage collection in the process), and one for ocean recovery.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

mikael (484) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284091)

The problem is that you also end up filtering out all the other life out of the ocean; amoeba, plankton, larvae stages of fish and crustaceans, which sortof defeats the purpose of trying to filter out the plastic in the first place.

That's the hard part - finding something that will remove the plastic but not the DNA lifeforms.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284161)

The OP was talking about specific areas of the ocean where plastic accumulates due to currents, not the entire ocean itself.

Further, you start with the big stuff and all those critters would fall through the mesh. You could still have a person or two check what comes up and toss the wiggling stuff back into the water, but the amount of life that would be impacted is essentially zero compared to the amount of life which is currently being affected by these islands of plastic or ingestion of all those micro beads from facial scrubs (I use a type which has natural* scrubbers mixed in for this very reason).

* This is probably the only time you will ever hear me say I deliberately use something which has "natural" ingredients.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

tempestdata (457317) | about a month ago | (#47284635)

We seem fine filtering out the sea life with our fishing nets. The smaller stuff is actually more robust and quicker to regenerate than the bigger fish stocks we are depleting. Atleast in this case we are doing something constructive over all. So what if a little algae and plankton get sucked up too. It's not like they are an endangered species.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a month ago | (#47285241)

There is really not much alive in the atlantic garbage patch, which is where this tech would be best used at sea. (Which, if you've never heard of it, is a place in the Atlantic where a bunch of ocean currents sort of cancel each other out, and makes a place where all sorts of nastiness from all over the world collects, poisoning the area in the process)

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (4, Insightful)

Troyusrex (2446430) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283831)

Unfortunately, those ocean garbage patches average four 5 X 5 X 1 mm piece of plastic per cubic meter so while a clean up tanker would be great for the environment it wouldn't collect enough to make a meaningful dent in its own fuel needs.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (4, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283983)

Plus, you'd scoop up a lot more oceanic plant and animal life trying to extract that plastic material.

Actually, the critters might be a better fuel source than the plastics...
=Smidge=

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284125)

Doesn't Mr. Burns do that in a Simpsons episode with plastic soda rings?

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284381)

Plus, you'd scoop up a lot more oceanic plant and animal life trying to extract that plastic material.

Or not

http://www.canada.com/calgaryh... [canada.com]

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284131)

Does such tanker have to be fast and/or work day and night? I could imagine one solar- and wind- powered. A fleet of such tankers might clean up the ocean slowly but steady, providing a constant "stream" of plastic fuel.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284197)

100 mm^3 of plastic per m^3 of water doesn't sound much like a garbage patch to me...

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | about a month ago | (#47285407)

It isn't...

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284279)

Citation please? I'm not implying you're wrong, I'm just interested in seeing where this data came from since I'm pretty interested in ocean plastification these days.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about a month ago | (#47284581)

So we need to develop an ultrabright nuke that will melt all of the particles into a thin film of plastic that can be collected... or allowed to sink to the bottom dragging all aquatic forms of life with it... oh.... I guess not.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47284681)

The plastic is mostly floating. Are cubic meters the best unit for measurement? I would think that ocean area rather than volume would be a better denominator here.

(I'm picturing a trawling net skimming up the plastic, rather than a pump sucking in the ocean and filtering out the plastic)

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (3, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283857)

Expanding on that, the US Navy (and I'm sure other nation's ship fleets) have excellent nuclear reactors. Even with current technology, thermal depolymerization wouldn't be that hard to do, especially near the Pacific Gyre with the large amount of floating waste available there. Then said ship either stays put, transferring the recovered crude to another vessel, or returns to harbor with useful resources.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284051)

The reactor referred to in the article is a chemical reactor, not a nuclear reactor.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Ferrofluid (2979761) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284109)

Yes, we know : ) . The idea is to supply the chemical reactor with heat from the ship's nuclear reactor.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284127)

Rapier wit!

Though, i think he was saying that due to the nuclear reactor on board the ship, they could stay at sea basically indefinitely (or until their crew runs out of food), and also that the nuclear reactor would provide the heat needed for the plastics conversion.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47284797)

Rapier wit!

Though, i think he was saying that due to the nuclear reactor on board the ship, they could stay at sea basically indefinitely (or until their crew runs out of food)...

Are plankton burgers yummy?

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284411)

Quite! Nuckler Energy is BAD OK.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283899)

The garbage patches aren't really big piles of plastic. They're areas above some theshold of plastic to water but still vastly more water than plastic. You'd have to develop something to suck in water and filter out the plastic before you could even start on converting it.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283993)

I developed a system that sucks in water and filters out dolphins a few minutes after the BP spill in the gulf.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284095)

A net?

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a month ago | (#47285017)

"A net?"

Yep, a Nautical Environment Transformer.

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (1)

goingToSay (1192935) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284071)

This is a better solution than tankers: http://www.theoceancleanup.com... [theoceancleanup.com]

Re:Ocean garbage patches? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284527)

I think the gold in seawater might be more valuable than the plastic. With gold at 0.000011 ppm in seawater and $42.27 per gram, a cubic meter of seawater contains 1/20 of 1 cent worth of gold. Assuming that the garbage patches have 0.1 ppm plastic and a scrap price of $0.50/pound, a cubic meter of seawater has about 1/100 of 1 cent of plastic.

In other words, if you're going to be doing all that work to mine the seawater, you'll do better off extracting gold from it than plastic!

dom

Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (2, Interesting)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283729)

I don't know how they define "cost effective", but since the plastic mostly came from oil in the first place, any energy expenditure to recover it is a net minus overall.

For an individual organization that can get a hold of a lot of landfill plastic cheap, this may be a win, but overall it is a fuel source with an energy return on investment (EROI) less than 1.

We're in trouble if we have to start resorting to this as an energy source. Deep trouble.

Re:Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (5, Interesting)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283855)

While I totally agree with this, I think it misses the point.

Assuming that plastic is provided for free (cities or landfills are already pulling plastic out via a separation step) then enough energy can be *recovered* from the plastic to power the recovery process with a net gain. The goal is not energy independence... it's prevention of non-biodegradable items making it into the landfill.

There was a story a few months ago about an MIT project [inhabitat.com] to float a collector out into the ocean to pick up plastic... maybe these two teams should get together.

Re:Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (4, Insightful)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283863)

It's not the point. The point is to take a material that does nothing and to make it useful again. There's only so much plastic you can convert back into carpet and other non critical product. If this isn't BS and the result of the transformation is more fuel than what was used then it's a no brainer. The technology will be adopted and improved which will have even bigger ROI.

Currently we pay to get rid of plastic. This allows making plastic disposal lucrative and that in my books is a positive ROI.

Re:Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (1)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284053)

I don't know how they define "cost effective", but since the plastic mostly came from oil in the first place, any energy expenditure to recover it is a net minus overall.

That would certainly be true when cost is compared to the original cost of the petroleum used to produce the plastic. Depending on the current price of oil, it may or may not be true now and in the future.

Re:Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284135)

If your goal was to turn oil into oil, then yes it's inefficient.

If your goal is to turn a waste product into oil, you need only be net efficient on the collection, conversion, and subsequent waste disposal. If it takes $0.80 of investment (collection, processing, distribution, waste cleanup) to produce a $1.00 worth of marketable product, then you've got a commercial venture. If it costs you up to $1.05 to do it, then you have a government contract possibility as you might be able to charge $0.20-$0.25 to municipalities to take their semi-recyclable plastics rather than landfill them.

It's not meant to be an energy source, per se, but a way to reuse plastics which would otherwise be landfilled.

Re:Oil - Plastic - Back to Oil? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284155)

We are making the plastic anyway, so the only thing we need to consider the the energy cost of converting it back into oil once we have finished using it.

Not exactly green (4, Insightful)

Derec01 (1668942) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283735)

I'm all for eliminating waste, but if the net effect is that we're removing plastic from landfills and emitting it as CO2, that's not terribly different from digging up crude oil and emitting it as CO2.

Now, I'm sure there's some sort of multiplier here that makes it a bit better - perhaps the plastics are a cleaner source and less energy will be used to process it - but currently this carbon is sequestered in an inert if unattractive form whose dangers are mostly localized.

Re:Not exactly green (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284195)

The goal isn't to burn this oil as tribute flames to our inventive manliness. It would replace an equivalent carbon portion of the fuel already burned, so there's no net increase in carbon, just that we would need to pull less out oil of the ground and put less plastic back in. (Okay, that's not quite what happens, oil just gets cheaper if you increase the supply so there is some net increase above the magical unicorn world where everything else stayed the same we would use less oil, but it's not as bad as burning most of the oil *and* burying a bunch of plastic)

Re:Not exactly green (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284309)

So, and mind you, I only skimmed the article which is a terrible sin, but... The problem with plastic is that it doesn't break down, so when it's thrown out, that's something that will last in the ground for ages. Although, that's assuming it doesn't make its way into the water, at which point it photodegrades into tiny plastic particles that aren't great for the environment. Worse yet, plastic recycling requires the same type of plastic to be combined together, which can be difficult if the plastics aren't labeled and have been broken up. if this allows them to recycle all plastic, without sorting, that's pretty awesome.

We're All Gonna Die - Aaaaaargh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284543)

Well, someday at least.

I'll probably live to be 200, long enough to fart my way to oblivion, my methane emissions pushing the Earth to the tipping point and over the edge! Tough luck for the rest of you blokes!

Re:Not exactly green (1)

phorm (591458) | about a month ago | (#47285249)

Depending on how much CO2 the machine creates, you may be coming up neutral or a bit ahead VS current oil extraction methods. After all, the machines that are used in oil-fields also use fuel and give off CO2.

Basically, you're lowering the need to extract raw/crude oil in favor of manufacturing it from plastic waste. It doesn't really affect your overall oil consumption/pollution - though it might affect pricing - but it does get rid of plastic waste buried in landfills. If they could similarly deal with stuff like heavy metals etc then we'd end up with much "cleaner" landfills.

Re:Not exactly green (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a month ago | (#47285501)

I'm all for eliminating waste, but if the net effect is that we're removing plastic from landfills and emitting it as CO2, that's not terribly different from digging up crude oil and emitting it as CO2.

Now, I'm sure there's some sort of multiplier here that makes it a bit better - perhaps the plastics are a cleaner source and less energy will be used to process it - but currently this carbon is sequestered in an inert if unattractive form whose dangers are mostly localized.

It is terribly different in that unusable non-biodegradable material is removed, and as we develop new combustion systems and CO2 sequestration techniques, we know (should know) what to do with the CO2 exhaust.

There are no perfect solutions. Just alternatives, and it is up to us in being sufficiently smart (or at least in not being callously stupid) to string multiple alternatives into acceptable solutions.

Re:Not exactly green (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285553)

Oh no! The CO2 bogeyman!

You fucking idiot. Words fail me. How much longer are ignorant, television-believing cretins going to run with this 'man-made catastrophic global warming' - sorry - 'climate change' - bullshit?

www.climatedepot.com

Oh boo hoo, the carbon is going to kill us all, and aren't I saint for blindly parrotting what the television told me. You fucking idiot.

Continuous system for angering Slashdot users (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283747)

It's called Beta... and it sucks.
 
Boycott Dice!
Boycott ThinkGeek!
Boycott Beta!!!!

Not green (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283753)

Pyrolysis of plastics is anything but environmentally friendly..

Not green (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284493)

Perhaps, but can it be less green than dumping billions of tuns of plastic trash into landfills per year? To me it could be one piece of the puzzle towards solving our many energy, product & sustainability issues. Preventing billions of tones of trash that is currently going into our landfills, removing the need to extract millions of barrels of oil from the ground and possibly removing billions of tons that are currently in those landfills.

to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283775)

While this converts waste plastic to oil it does not however:
A.: complete this conversion at a less than or equal cost of energy generated by the oil. The shredder, crucible, and condenser arent powered by the mellow rock stylings of huey lewis and the news.
B.: Absolve us from researching alternatives to crude oil, a fossil fuel that is finite in supply and directly contributing to climate change.

Our lust for oil has become all but indistinguishable from a heroin addicts search for a fix.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283925)

Yep, we should all retire to our log cabins and sing kumbaya.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (3, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284007)

It said in the article that the plastic itself, once converted to fuel is used to fuel the process which is converting the plastic to fuel. In other words they pull off a little of the fuel converted from the plastic to fuel the process going forward. Other than the initial startup energy it should be energy independent.

Plastic is a nasty waste product (it doesn't biodegrade and it kills living things) that we need to find a way to either reuse or properly destroy. Converting the several trillion tons of plastic waste in US landfills into fuel oil not only saves the space in the landfills it recovers energy from a waste product. It's a good idea if the total economics of the setup are profitable enough to justify hauling it to a disposal site or small enough to build these at landfills. It's a damn good waste reduction technique that will ensure we don't end up with the planet in the movie Wall-E (which was buried in garbage like plastic waste).

to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284015)

Actually, according to the article (and the summary), it does complete the conversion of plastic to oil an energy cost less than the generated oil.
Running the plant only takes *part* of the generated oil. The rest of the generated/recovered fuel can be properly processed and shipped elsewhere to be sold.

to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284039)

From the article:

About 70 to 80 percent of the product comes out as oil. Roughly 10 to 20 percent becomes hydrocarbon gas that heats the system, while the remainder is char residue.

For every 10 units of plastic the system is fed, it generates 7-8 units of oil, 1-2 units of gas which powers the system, and 0-1 units of waste 'char residue'. So it produces quite a bit more fuel from the plastic than it consumes.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284063)

complete this conversion at a less than or equal cost of energy generated by the oil. The shredder, crucible, and condenser arent powered by the mellow rock stylings of huey lewis and the news.

Actually, the article claims it does. It specifically says it produces a $100 barrel of oil for $35. The way they word it, it sounds like that $35 includes the energy costs.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (2)

VorpalRodent (964940) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284097)

It's interesting that you mention this. I actually have a relatively green process that I'm working on for extracting energy from waste, and it's primary source of input energy is "Hip to be Square". We do note high turnover in our lab assistants, however.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (1)

preaction (1526109) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284349)

Do they not appreciate Huey Lewis's undisputed masterpiece? You should murder them with an axe.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (1)

theIsovist (1348209) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284329)

yes but what it does do is that it provides a further use for the plastic besides being discarded into the landfills. better to be used completely rather than just thrown away.

Re:to state a few obvious facts not in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285629)

LOL! "directly contributing to climate change".

The climate is ALWAYS changing, so what exactly do you mean by 'climate change'? Oh, you mean 'catastrophic man-made global warming'. So why are you using ANOTHER phrase with a completely DIFFERENT meaning? Dishonest much? Stupid? Useful idiot? Check. Another 'climate change' alarmist moron. Unbelievable.

www.climatedepot.com

Try reading some opposing views for once, you arrogant, holier than thou, brainwashed cretin.

Just burn it (1)

itzly (3699663) | about a month and a half ago | (#47283777)

Instead of setting up a complicated process to convert plastic to oil, just burn the stuff, and use the heat to generate electricity.

Re:Just burn it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284059)

Instead of setting up a complicated process to convert plastic to oil, just burn the stuff, and use the heat to generate electricity.

How hot can you burn plastic? Will it gunk up the furnace?

Re:Just burn it (1)

mikael (484) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284115)

Then we end up putting dioxins into the environment. You have to burn the plastic in high-temperature incinerators to prevent that from happening.

Re:Just burn it (1)

itzly (3699663) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284169)

Or filter out the dioxins from the smoke.

Re:Just burn it (1)

itzly (3699663) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284257)

Or sort out the chlorinated plastics first. I suspect the plastic to oil process requires the same thing.

Re:Just burn it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285499)

"Uh Raquel, so many go to bed hungry in this nation, yet cat food is full of tuna! I can't help but think each time I go to the zoo and see those porpoises, crammed into those tiny tanks, what a waste that is. Butcher half of them now! That's hundreds of pounds of dolphin meat that can be fed to our cats, freeing up that tuna for our nation's hungry. " ... "Uh, so many are cold, shivering in the night, so I say, butcher those cats, skin them! Use their fur to keep hundreds warm!"

translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283791)

we burn plastic

Why didn't the girl do the voice work on the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283901)

She seems much more fluent / comfortable speaking english, and I just want to hear her talk more about long-chain hydrocarbons.

However... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283939)

This puts all that carbon back into the air...
Rather than burying some of,what we take out.

-- mark

However... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47283963)

This puts that carbon into the air, rather than burying part (at least) or what we take out.

I'm confused (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284075)

I didn't RTFA, but this is /. so that's a given. As I recall, plastic is the leftover waste from refining oil. That was one of the reasons it was so revolutionary to begin with. No one knew what to do with all of those tons of leftover sludge created by the refining process. If this process can convert plastic into some kind of useful fuel, I would think it would be more efficient to do so prior to creating the plastic to begin with.

Re:I'm confused (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284271)

As I recall, plastic is the leftover waste from refining oil.

You recall wrong. Very, very wrong.

Re:I'm confused (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284541)

Diesel is made from the sludge left over from refining oil... makes you wonder why it costs more than regular doesn't it?

Re:I'm confused (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month ago | (#47284687)

Diesel is made from the sludge left over from refining oil... makes you wonder why it costs more than regular doesn't it?

It didn't used to cost more. My somewhat murky memory was that some portion of the population started to see the popularity of diesel vehicles during the Carter administration, especially since the fuel was so much cheaper. (We had a diesel rabbit... very bad idea for several reason, but I digress...) It seems that shortly after this mild shift in public consciousness, diesel prices started to spike.

Re:I'm confused (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a month ago | (#47284817)

Hell, you can (and we do) make any shorter-chain molecule by cracking.

Diesel oil is a bunch of mid-length chains and rings, which naturally exist in crude oil, and have been used that way for 110 years.

But since we want more gasoline & diesel oil than is naturally in crude, we crack the high-carbon molecules into the ones that we want more of (and then reform those too small into longer ones), instead of burning it in building boiler rooms, ships and making candles.

To reiterate, though: the chains that we call "diesel oil" absolutely, positively do exist naturally in crude oil.

Can help plastic recycling (1)

robstout (2873439) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284079)

It seems like one of the biggest issues with recycling plastics is all the different types, and each type having a different method to get back into a usable form. I see this as being really useful for breaking down big mixtures of plastic, where it would be too costly to sort them out. I wouldn't even use the oil for fuel, make more plastics! Really, plastics has me more wrried about oil consumption in th elong-run, than the fuel usage itself.

2 trillion tons (3, Interesting)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284083)

The statement that there is 2 trillion tons of plastic in land fills got me wondering how much oil actually goes into producing something. From what I can gather a barrel of oil weighs about 300 pounds so if there aren't any other external inputs into making plastics that would mean that about 13 trillion barrels of oil have been turned into plastic. This doesn't seem the least bit right given that under 2 trillion barrels of oil have been extracted and not all of that went into making plastic. So how much oil actually goes into making plastic and how much is other stuff is use?

This leads me to my next question which is how much of the weight of the plastic is turned into oil? If it is over 1/6 of it then we have the equivalent of more than all presently extracted oil in our land fills already.

Re:2 trillion tons (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284171)

there ARE other inputs into making plastics than the hydrogen and carbon atoms, for example vinyl has chlorine atoms, PET has oxygen.

42% of crude oil is used for other things than fuel. From fertilizer to explosives to plastics to lubricants to waxes the list is huge

Re:2 trillion tons (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a month ago | (#47284605)

I figured that there were but I have no idea how much hence the question. Even with the number you provided it only makes things worse since the ratio of non to oil inputs for plastic would now be above 14:1 instead of my guessed 6:1 which seems even more doubtful. Also a billion tons of fairly dense rock makes a really fucking big hole in the ground [wikipedia.org] and plastic is much less dense than iron ore plus in land fills there would be lots of other stuff as well.

Re:2 trillion tons (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284277)

"Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills ..."

I think that number is too high.

According to both quoted articles and the EPA [epa.gov] , "32 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2012". 32 million to 2 trillion is a huge jump.

Re:2 trillion tons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284479)

Almost like we've been producing plastic for a hundred or so years, but only recycling it for a few decades?

Re:2 trillion tons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285325)

If I did my math right,
(2 trillion) / (32 million)
== (2 * 10^12) / (32 * 10^6)
== 62,500

Unless I messed up somewhere, we would have to make 32 million tons of plastic every year for 62,500 years, to make 2 trillion tons of plastic.

I would believe a total of 2 billion (2 * 10^9) tons, which would be created at the current rate in 62.5 years. As you say, we've only been making plastic for about a hundred years.

Re:2 trillion tons (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about a month ago | (#47284893)

In 2012, the United States alone produced roughly 32 million tons of plastic waste

Operating continuously, the plant can convert up to 10 tons of plastic per day into 60 barrels of oil, with zero toxic emissions.

So just one years worth of the US's plastic waist could be turned in 192 million barrels unfortunately they can't handle that kind of volume.

The roughly 21k barrel produced by a facility like this in a year would make a very tiny dent in in the 6.89 billion barrels a year we use http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/... [eia.gov]

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47284121)

"Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills, so there is a huge NEED (not demand) for this technology." Just as petrol companies don't want us to switch to solar, landfill owners make money storing your trash. In the USA many towns have reduced property tax in exchange for having landfills.

Re:Correction (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month ago | (#47284639)

> landfill owners make money storing your trash

That sounds a reasonable assertion, but wouldn't an enterprising landfill owner sitting on millions of pounds of plastic waste want to *additionally* make money converting some of the trash into something he could sell? Assuming it all penciled out, of course.

Old Tech (Pyrolysis), Why it didn't sail (3, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47284285)

Pyrolysis for "recycling" plastic waste into oil (or tire waste into oil) has been around since at least the 1990s. The main problems are 2: A) As Irate Engineer states, a polymer is an "added value" and deconstructing polymers back to oil always fails economically when actual recycling to like-polymers is available, and B) as Itzy says, the comparative value of returning it to fuel, vs. leaving it in an Municipal Solid Waste to energy facility and burning it, is small.

I read TFA and cannot figure out what differentiates this from the pyrolysis "waste investments" of the 1990s, none of which really sailed.

Re:Old Tech (Pyrolysis), Why it didn't sail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47284659)

Surely it's no more expensive than fracking?

OK well and good but, (1)

Grey Geezer (2699315) | about a month ago | (#47284767)

let's start thinking of ways to reduce the amount of plastic we produce in the first place. I'm thinking mostly about all of the plastic packaging in our Big Box stores. we really do not need, have not needed in the past, to wrap a hammer in a plastic clam shell. It's not like it will go stale if we just hang it on a hook. If you must package non perishable items (to reduce shrink for instance) put it in a cardboard box. Using our finite petroleum resources to package non perishable items is crazy.

Why aren't we using volcanoes for melting plastic? (1)

musixman (1713146) | about a month ago | (#47284769)

Why not just put the worlds plastic in a volcano. BAM just solved the worlds plastic problem.

We could pitch other stuff as-well in volcanoes like cars, electronics & other stuff I'm sure. I don't think anyone will complain about a polluted volcano.

I asked everyone in the office about this & they agree with me. I'm right.

show me the numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47284905)

I have seen this so many times before and what is always missing are the energy balance numbers. I haven't seen away to reform plastic or tires that doesn't consume as many calories as it produces in fuel.

MIT is 7 years behind schedule (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47285559)

And i goofed up my last entry. Anyhoo, Frank Pringle figured this out years ago, and the theories behind all this are even older.

http://www.rexresearch.com/pringle/pringle.htm

Great! We can take it out of the ground (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a month ago | (#47285601)

and put all that carbon into the air where it belongs!

Who comes up with this stuff?

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