A Japanese inventor creates a Machine that Converts Plastic into Oil and Fuel.
1. Japanese invention turns plastic into oil, fits on a tabletop.
2. The Art of Recycling: Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil
Hoax or Fact:
The message comes with a video showing a Japanese inventor explaining about his invented machine, claiming to convert waste plastic into oil and fuel. It is a fact, the inventor is Akinori Ito and the converter is called Blest Machine.
Possibility of Converting Plastic into Oil
This video reminds us of the popular video showing how to convert Salt Water into Fuel, which is not practically easy and profitable - as the process consumes more energy than it produces. Although the present story sounds too good to be true, it holds up to scrutiny and does not violate any physical laws. Yes, it is a fact that plastics are generally recycled back into oil in massive facilities, and this is possible because most of the plastics today are made from oil. The Japanese inventor here, Mr. Akinori Ito has in fact built a tabletop machine called Blest Machine which can do the same task safely and cleanly.
However, it should be noted that Blest is not the only company to be able to turn plastic waste to oil. There are few other companies across the world that are trying to make this process profitable. Agri-Plas, an Oregon-based plastics recycler company, is the first one in U.S to convert unwanted and typically unrecyclable agricultural plastics into crude oil. The company has even shipped this oil to a refinery for commercial processing. Then there are other companies like Agilyx (formerly Plas2Fuel), the Envion Oil Generator, and few others that you can read from the reference section below. The second video is a CNN news report of the Envion Oil Generator. The process these companies (and individuals) employ to convert petroleum-based waste plastic into fuel is known as Pyrolysis.
Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures without the participation of oxygen. This involves simultaneous change of chemical composition and physical phase.
In present case, as explained in the first video, the plastic waste is heated at high temperatures to decompose and convert into oil and other by products, which can be used as fuel. The Blest’s conversion technology uses a temperature controlling electric heater, inside which the machine can process polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene (numbers 2-4) plastic, but not PET bottles (number 1). The machine gives a crude gas that can fuel things like generators or stoves and, when refined, it can also be pumped into a car, boat or a motorbike. When this gas is cooled down, it produces oil, which can again be refined for using in various ways. Depending on the quality of plastic, the machine can convert 1 kg plastic to about 1 liter of oil. Reports suggest that this process of converting waste plastic into oil is a good deal as well.
The Blest company also has a refiner machine for separating hydro carbon oil from this crude oil, which converts this mixed oil into Gasoline, Kerosene, Diesel oil and heavy oil equivalents. However, the company does not guarantee this conversion, as it depends on the type of plastic materials used. Moreover, this plastic to oil conversion process has some cons, along with some pros.
- All those dirty waste plastics going into landfill and leaching chemicals can be avoided by this process. It can be utilized in a better way.
- Saves both energy and carbon emissions, and depending on regional landfill costs, it can also be more cost efficient.
- In long term, there may be environmental risk from the gas emissions, the impurities and potentially toxic compounds that will be left behind in this process.
- If this oil production process becomes successful, use of plastic may not be put on check.
The Future Scope
According to a 2012 study prepared for the American Chemistry Council, by the research organization RTI International, these Pyrolysis conversion technologies that turn plastic waste into fuel have developed to the point where they are likely to be commercially viable in just 5-10 years.
The study also points that although there’s plenty of plastic waste available to convert into fuel, plastics-to-oil technology alone is not likely to be an energy cure-all. This is because the extent of oil consumption around the world is massive, and this plastic conversion into oil cannot cater all those needs. The RTI study says:
“Given the developmental stage and the current capacities of technologies, our preliminary estimates suggest that conversion technologies would offset significantly less than 1% percent of annual North American oil consumption. The average size of a plastics-to-oil facility is in the range of 10-30 tons per day. If there were 100 plastics-to-oil facilities in North America by 2015, conversion production could offset approximately 6,000 -18,000 barrels of oil per day, assuming 1 ton of plastic yields 6 barrels of oil. In contrast, total consumption of crude oil in North America is forecast to be 21.57 million barrels per day in 2015.”
Regarding the future of this plastic to oil conversion, the RTI study concludes saying:
"The future of these technologies will depend heavily on the success of first-generation facilities, but some successes are already coming to fruition. Two facilities have off-take agreements, and almost all of the surveyed vendors have recently received awards for innovation and/or clean energy solutions. Conversion technologies should be considered an emerging, viable option for managing non-recycled plastics and MSW (municipal solid waste) in the near future."
So only time and development in these technologies will tell us how efficient, safe and profitable these conversion processes can be.
Japanese 'Blest Machine' recycles plastic into oil at home
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Agri- Plas ships first batches of crude oil to refinery
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