Plastics to Fuel: An Innovation

I recently read an article about a company that has a bright idea to convert our petroleum-based plastics back into its mother component, oil. It may not be a perfect system, it underlines our reliance on oil, but it also gives a viable temporary solution to what can be done with the never-ending supply of unbiodegradable plastics which are putting the livelihood of many organisms in danger every day.

I work in a warehouse, and everyday I see literally thousands of pieces of unrecyclable plastic pieces being mindlessly tossed away into the dumpster out in the back. Packaging, Tape, Lables, polyethylene envelopes, bubble wrap, and glue, are among many pieces of plastic that end up in our dumpsters every day in the hundreds of tons. These plastics will never see the light of day once they enter our landfills, or worse, they will end up living an eternity at sea, polluting our oceans and lakes.

JBI Inc. wants to change the way we use out plastics. The new company successfully converts plastics into fuel which can be used efficiently and with minimal environmental impact.

In a National Public Radio exclusive last year, they revealed the facility to the public. A Massive Machine dubbed the “plastic monster” was processing thousands of pounds of “shredded milk jugs, water bottles, grocery bags, and other plastics into a large tank where they melted the plastics together and effectively vaporized them.

JBI CEO John Bordynuik holds a jar of No. 6 fuel oil, derived from discarded plastic like that seen on a conveyor belt at his plant. Cred:NPR


Environmental Concerns

According to JBI Inc.’s website, plastic2oil.com, their machinery is for the most part, environmentally friendly (as much as petroleum can be).

JBI has published the pollution levels of their fuel. Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, an environmental consulting firm, conducted an emmisions test on JBI’s P2O machinery in 2011.

It does have some negative emissions. SO2, Sulfur Dioxide, is a very dangerous toxic gas which is emitted by several industrial processes as well as by volcanoes and geothermal vents. In addition, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide Compounds, and Methane are released. However, all of these gasses exist in such minute quantities that their effect is quite limited.

The fuel is in fact very clean. What they produce is what is known as No. 6 fuel, used in high power boilers for industrial processes.

Compared to regular boiler fuel, JBI Inc.’s fuel is far cleaner.

It has 4% less sulpher, almost no sediment content, and a low amount carbon residue following burning. According to JBI, it is essentially clean diesel.

In Use

Partnering up with several green energy organizations and companies interested in the cost-effective environmental solution, JBI has developed a processor capable of processing up to 4,000 lbs of plastic waste per hour without having to shred the feed-stock beforehand.

Currently, JBI is able to produce No.6, No.2, and diesel oil. However, their No.6 fuel is currently their most popular, environmentally friendly, and cost efficient fuel product.

No. 6 Fuel is heavy fuel generally used in industrial boilers and ships.

This February, they announced the opening of another facility in Niagara Falls, NY uniquely dubbed “Processor No. 2.” As the company grows with more investment and distribution, they expect to open another plant.

 

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