Plastic Fuel & It's Future
The @Altitude Team has connected with Irish company Cynar Plc a pioneering technology provider which has development the first commercially-viable plastic-to-diesel fuel conversion.
This fuel comes from end of life plastics that cannot be recycled and would otherwise go to landfill or find itself in the oceans, which then inevitably finds itself in the numerous gyres that now are deplorably tagged as the great garbage patches or trash vortex. The largest patch is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mire of plastic waste spanning 15 million square kilometres. If it were a country, it would be twice the size of Australia. Another garbage patch chokes the Atlantic Ocean, and another the Indian.
This unique Cynar technology converts mixed non-recyclable plastic waste into synthetic fuels that are cleaner, low in sulphur and in the case of the diesel, a higher cetane than generic diesel fuel. The key elements of the technology involves pyrolysis and distillation.
The pyrolysis process is the heating of the plastics in an oxygen-free environment to prevent them from burning, which is broken into the component hydrocarbons to create the equivalent of a petroleum distillate. This can then be separated into different fuels. As there is no burning of the plastics, but rather a melting process, there are no toxic emissions released into the environment.
The carbon footprint of the process is far smaller than traditional fuel production. Thus neatly fitting within the carbon footprint debate of aiming to be carbon neutral (Note: Australia being the first to ratify the carbon tax). The fact that the plastics are sourced from waste management companies is also environmentally friendly as is the diversion of plastics from landfill.
While it’s a technical marvel, the fuel has never been tested in the air. Jeremy will be the first to fly ‘on wings of waste’.
SNAPSHOT VIEW OF PLASTIC FUEL’S FUTURE
- Plastic takes 100 years to degrade, which means that every single piece we have not recycled still exists.
- Planet earth is defiantly not short of landfill and ocean end-of-life plastic debris.
- The pyrolysis process is able to recycle the carbon (that would otherwise reside in landfills or in the oceans), thus massive reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
- The end of life plastics can be recycled to 100%: 95% usable for diesel fuel, the remaining 5% is char (the solid material that remains) is given a second life and can be used in creating various floor coverings.
- The extrusion of the plastic fuel is required to go through a final refining process to bring it up to par for aviation diesel (this precious fuel can in effect run a GA fleet).
- This waste fuel can compete with the billions of barrels of fuel being produced every day around the globe. The world has stocks of landfills of plastic, industries and consumers dictate the need and use of a plethora of plastics, thus there will always be synthetic fuel reserves.
- The synthetic recyclable fuel, when used in vehicles, burns more effectively, which significantly indicates this is the fuel for the future, equalling a cleaner fuel for the planet.
- For the 4000L of plastic fuel that @Altitude’s On Wings of Waste first ‘high wire’ flight will require to consume, approximately five tonnes of waste plastic will be required. Just image the clean up process of our gorgeous plant yet also being able to fuel various vehicles globally.