New Recycling Process Turns Waste Plastic Into Oil
The world is facing a growing environmental problem with plastic, which is slowly filling up our oceans. Only a very small percentage of waste plastic gets recycled, and while a caterpillar may help in the long term, we really need a quick fix to responsibly deal with the material. That fix looks likely to come from a British company called Recycling Technologies (RT).
As reported by Bloomberg, RT is located in Swindon in southwest England where it is run by CEO Adrian Griffiths. He and his 22-strong team have managed to create a refinery machine called the RT7000 for dealing with all types of waste plastic. You put plastic in one end and three types of oil can be produced out the other.
The process is based on a similar technique to that used for thermal cracking. The plastic is first cleaned of any foreign objects such as dirt or food, then it is heated to 500 degrees Celsius (932 degrees Fahrenheit) using "hot sand-like particles." This breaks down the carbon bonds in the plastic and turns it into a vapor. The components that make up the plastic have different boiling points, allowing the three different products to be created.
In the most simple terms, crude oil to plastic conversion creates very long hydrocarbons. The RT refinery makes those hydrocarbons short again. The oil produced is called Plaxx. In terms of production, for every 7,000 tons of plastic put in you get 5,000 tons of Plaxx, with one machine located in Scotland expected to achieve that output per year.
The three types of fuel produced include a light yellow oil suitable for petrochemical companies, a candle wax-like oil ideal for use by ship engines and a very thick brown wax oil that can be used for shoe polishing and cosmetics.
An RT7000 machine is about the size of a tennis court and can be installed anywhere there is a need (transporting it required just five shipping containers). It costs roughly $3.8 million to install and then a further $647,000 a year to run. However, RT claims each machine generates revenue of $2.2 million, suggesting it pays for itself within three years.
With the RT7000 proven to work and be cost effective, Griffiths wants to have 100 of the machines operational under lease by 2025.