Turning Plastic Into Oil |
Turning Plastic Into Oil
Turning Plastic Into Oil

One of the major flaws of plastic is that it is made of oil. And although this polymer can be recycled, a Japanese chemist has developed an even more ingenious process: reprocessing plastic waste into oil. In the “B240” machine, designed by Akinori Ito of the Japanese company Blest, plastic is first melted before being converted into gas and then cooled. The transformation process is able to treat three of the four most widely used plastics. Furthermore, the process requires a kilowatt-hour of electricity to convert a kilogram of plastic into a liter of oil, and it does not emit CO2. The current production cost for each liter of converted oil adds up to about 20 cents. Since the produce of the first machine is unrefined oil, Blest also manufactures purification machines – the CA-20 and CA-50 – so that oil can be used in other applications, such as fuel for a car. Blest company has sold its machines mainly to small factories and farms in Japan, though also to schools for educational purposes. The company also seeks to introduce this alternative technology for recycling plastic to North American markets. Although this technology is not perfect – especially considering that potentially toxic impurities remain in the machine after the transformation of plastic – it still represents a step forward in the research of plastic recycling. It could also represent a new solution in communities where plastic is currently not recycled. The current manufacturing process of plastic requires about 8% of the annual global production of oil. In Japan, 45% of all waste is from plastic items such as bottles, plastic bags and food packaging.

Posted on June 13, 2015

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