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Old 01 November 2010, 10:18 PM
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Jenn Jenn is offline
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Location: Alberta
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Teacher Converting plastic back into oil

Comment: I received this from a knowledgeable friend. One can only hope it is true.
Essentially it is a low cost process from turning plastic into oil.

Check this out. Sound is all in Japanese. Just read the subtitles and watch.

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Old 01 November 2010, 10:38 PM
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hambubba hambubba is offline
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If it were that easy... You'd think somebody somewhere would have noticed this simple process.

Just watching the video, the amounts don't jog... 1kg = 1 liter? there's no way. I suspect he is burning the plastic, but has some oil stored in the device. Plus, the refinability into different materials is weird.

Oh well, according to this article on wiki, plastic isn't made of "oil". And, it's extremely hard to get rid of - burning is potentially toxic, not just "CO2".

However, you could sell this gadget to lots of little villages, then when the oil gets pumped out of their device, you stop answering the phone... oh wait, they don't have phones...

Scam. No doubt.
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Old 01 November 2010, 10:44 PM
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Dropbear Dropbear is offline
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It is all a bit 'magic box' isn't it? Especially the bit with you don't have to prepare the plastic at all - just jam it in the machine with paper labels etc.

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Old 02 November 2010, 02:39 AM
Alchemy Alchemy is offline
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The company claims the device works for polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. In the video it appears he's loading the machine with polystyrene. The company also claims that a 3 hour process will recover about 80% of the plastic mass as oil, which would be consistent with obtaining one liter (0.8 kg) of kerosene from one kg of material.

I don't know anything specific about the instrument; it seems similar (perhaps even identical) to a device patented by DeWhitt for Plas2Fuel (US 7,758,729).
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Old 03 November 2010, 12:42 AM
Alchemy Alchemy is offline
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Originally Posted by hambubba View Post
If it were that easy... You'd think somebody somewhere would have noticed this simple process.
Several companies have; patents for this sort of thing go back into the late 90's. Really, anything made of carbon you can make into straight-chain hydrocarbons. Coal-to-gasoline processes have been around since the 1930s - it's just a matter of energetic and economic sustainability.

In this process, the claim is that under a particular temperature/pressure combination you can thermally crack the polymer into condensed distillates (i.e. some mix of hydrocarbons spanning the range of gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil). The patented processes I've seen make it clear that a lot of material that breaks up is vacuum distillates or LPG (which are vapors at room temperature and atmospheric pressure) and this flammable gas is captured and burned to provide heat for the cracking process. This makes sense if there's a set energy cost but a zero (or even negative) material cost. It is acknowledged that there will be contaminants (water, soil, paper, etc.) that need to either remain in the chamber or be captured and separated from the oil - this is part of the purpose of that water chamber.

The somewhat remarkable claim here is ~80% recovery of condensed distillates (C5-C22 or so) from PE, PP, and PS. The viscosity of the recovered oil and the heavy black smoke when it burns would be consistent with fuel oil (~C22). This claim is not so far-fetched in light of similar experimental results - L. Sojáka,, R. Kubineca, H. Jurdákováa, E. Hájekováb, M. Bajusb, GC-MS OF POLYETHYLENE AND POLYPROPYLENE THERMAL CRACKING PRODUCTS, Petroleum & Coal 48 (2006) 1-14; countless articles in the Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis.

Scam. No doubt.
In the sense that the company might overstate the economics of such a device, perhaps, although it's quite clear they're only selling demonstration models. A device of such small size would not be practical.

My BS meter pinged a bit on this too, but the claims of the device are backed by prior work and publications, so I have every reason to believe it works more or less as described.
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Old 09 November 2010, 03:03 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
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I remember someone round the NW area of the US patenting a way to recycle all plastics by converting them back into oil. This was around the late 80s or early 90s. The problem at that time was that it cost more to convert plastic back into oil that what it cost to buy new oil. Plus the oil was only good for making new plastics with out further processing that would add more expensive to it.

A quick googlefu turned up this
Recycling company converts plastic into oil
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Old 20 August 2013, 02:24 AM
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Default hoax - not possible without a lot of energy

this from a polymers phud (Ph.D).

On the face of it this is all very appealing of course.

BUT actually it's impractical because it uses more energy than it converts. Not to mention the emissions from melting and processing plastic. Ask someone who has worked in an oil refinery - it ain't pretty.

The 'chemistry' is old and very simple… high levels of heat will break down the long chain plastic molecules into smaller pieces – especially simple plastics like polyethylene (nursery pots and Agri-silage wrap), but other plastics too.

The one key question that was completely overlooked was WHERE DOES THE power come from (electricity) to heat the machine, to recover the "oil" ?

A power station… And what do power stations use as fuel? Mostly Coal or oil. Some are nucular (!) and some may hydro electric or solar.

So you have to look at the overall energy balance and it's overall footprint.

If you use Hydro electric or solar, then you're simply using the energy of the sun (or the moon if it's tidal power), but if you're using a traditional power station (coal, gas or oil) then you're burning fuel to make power to make more fuel, and Mr Newton said energy cannot be created and is always lost in transformation due to inefficiencies in our processes.

So you're robbing Peter to pay Paul a lesser amount.

Admittedly waste plastic IS a very pure raw material and has a very high calorific content. That's why it's also good to simply burn it in a (clean) waste incinerator (along with other general refuse) and recover the heat energy to provide district hot water and electricity (Scandinavia, Switzerland, Holland and probably Germany)

So unless the power source is sustainable and doesn't require some other fuel to run the process, this'll remain a gimmick
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