May 17, 2020

Fuel Alchemy: Plastic to Oil

green technology
Biofuels
crude oil
natural oil
Admin
2 min
Plastic waste offers new value
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...

 

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.

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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.  

 

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Jul 30, 2021

Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector

marineenergy
renewableenergy
tidalturbine
Sustainability
3 min
The UK’s nascent marine energy sector starts exporting electricity to the grid as the most powerful tidal turbine in the world begins to generate power

Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre

At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable. 

How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?

Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.” 

“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement. 

The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.

“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government. 

“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”

However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future. 

We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.” 

The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours

This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly

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