Fuel Alchemy: Plastic to Oil
Written by Heather Rushworth
The days of dumping trash into overcrowded landfills may be over. Just as you would not dump gold, diamonds, or hundred dollar bills into garbage bins, you soon will hesitate to throw out your plastic water bottle, as the once typical trash is taking on a whole new value. New developments in technology seem to have done the unfathomable—and scientists have now found a means to turn plastic pollution into oil.
Scientifically referred to as “Thermal Depolymerization” the depolymerization process reduces complex organic materials—usually biomass plastic—into light crude oil. Scientists originally based this process of the geological processes they believed produced fossil fuels. Utilizing pressure and heat, the process breaks down the long chain polymers of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, decomposing them into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons.
Ultimately, the process runs off the principle that plastic was once oil, and should be easily converted back to oil, and utilized as fuel instead of material. Amazingly, plastic holds a higher energy value than just about any other type of waste.
The Japanese company Blest created one of the first machines to convert plastic into oil, and they are introducing their discovery to the planet by educating children in impoverished nations to utilize the technology in their villages.
The easy to use machine uses a temperature-controlled electric heater which converts the plastic into gas without burning CO2. This is a revolutionary technology for impoverished countries, which can use the oil to fuel their stoves, boilers, generators and even as fuel for their cars.
There does not seem to be a downside to this technology, as the invention runs off of twenty cents worth of electricity, with little environmental ramifications. While the machine is currently limited to processing polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropylene, it holds the promise of an eco-friendly source of oil, and a dramatic cut to our landfill waste.
In a world where the price of oil is always going up, the gross layer of smog is always thickening, and the garbage dumps are perpetually growing larger trash mountains, it is this type of invention which will put a dent in our over consumption, by consuming our own bi-products as non-hazardous fuel.
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.