Does a Japanese Inventor have the Solution to the Plastics Problem?


The Question of what to do with our plastic has been nagging humanity for years now…& that’s why this seems so interesting to me. I could imagine us having a small one of these at Arcosanti. Think about all the trouble that it would save us to convert our plastic into say gas for heating, cooling and even electricity…. Yet is this the best solution; to convert plastic into oil and then refine as recycled oil products? Are there any possible negatives such as pollution and toxic emissions?

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One thought on “Does a Japanese Inventor have the Solution to the Plastics Problem?

  1. Off the top of my head, I’d say this may run into net energy issues. Plastic is very resistant to breakdown (hence the infamous North Pacific Garbage Gyre). In addition to operating energy, there is the embedded energy in the device itself, plus transportation of the waste plastic, etc. It’s tough to compete with the 100:1 net energy of petroleum, even with crude prices hovering between $70-80/barrel. That’s not to say that these sorts of things shouldn’t be pursued; what is uneconomic now will look very attractive as we continue to bump down the backside of Hubbert’s Peak.

    The process looks like a version of thermo-depolymerization, which has been around for a while. I don’t know if it is still operating, but there used to be a TDP plant in Missouri that turned turkey guts into oil. The plant, when it wasn’t shut down by lawsuits over the smell, makes oil for $80/barrel. The process originally claimed 85% efficiency, but I was never clear on just what that meant. The most-optimistic translation would be that the plant uses 15 BTU’s for every 100 BTU’s in the resulting oil. Not too promising.

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