India Developing Plastic-to-Fuels Conversion

You see plastic water bottles, India sees diesel and propane. (image:

In the ongoing work to squeeze fuel from new sources, scientists have tried to tap algae, French fry grease, and cow emissions (aka flatulence, LOL!). Among the more inspiring successes, one Japanese scientist engineered a system that turns household plastic waste into gasoline. His system wasn’t much larger than an ‘80s-era television set, and appeared to work about as simply: Put a kilogram of old plastic wrap or packaging into the machine, turn it on, and a liter of something-like-oil comes pouring out. It’s hard not watch this video about his invention and think “game changer.”

Now, researchers in India are announcing their own efforts to transform plastics into usable fuels, according to The Times of India. Their input-output numbers look about the same — one kilo of plastic in, one liter of fuel out — though they’re focused on producing diesel and propane. The effort, which includes minds from three laboratories, expects to put out a demo model this year, with products on the market in 18 months.

Of course, fuel from plastic is still a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide when burned. But there would be a clear bonus in synthesizing your diesel or propane from the recycling bin, rather than the much longer (and costlier) supply networks.

Closing thought: Plastics are made from petroleum and natural gas, making the whole operation seem like high-tech de-evolution.

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