Plastic on Sea and wondered how to use it as fuel? Plastic as by-catch? Make a personal economic advantage from plastic pollution.
How to turn plastic waste into diesel fuel cheaply:
The process is really simple, it is similar to how alcohol is made. If you heat plastic waste in non oxygen environment, it will melt, but will not burn. After it has melted, it will start to boil and evaporate, you just need to put those vapors through a cooling pipe and when cooled the vapors will condense to a liquid and some of the vapors with shorter hydrocarbon lengths will remain as a gas. The exit of the cooling pipe is then going through a bubbler containing water to capture the last liquid forms of fuel and leave only gas that is then burned. If the cooling of the cooling tube is sufficient, there will be no fuel in the bubbler, but if not, the water will capture all the remaining fuel that will float above the water and can be poured off the water. On the bottom of the cooling tube is a steel reservoir that collects all the liquid and it has a release valve on the bottom so that the liquid fuel can be poured out.
This device works on electricity (3 phase), it has six nichrome coils as heating elements and consumes a total of 6kW (1kW each coil). The coils are turned on and off by three solid state relays, one for each phase, the relays are controlled by a digital thermostat with a temperature sensor just a bit below the lid, so that the vapor temperature can be monitored. You need to heat the plastic slowly to about 350 degrees and just wait till it does the magic. Our device has a capacity of 50 liters and can hold about 30 kg of shredded plastic. The process takes about 4 hours, but it can be shortened considerably by tweaking the design a bit. As I said, this makes a liquid fuel that can be used as multifuel, that means it can be used on diesel engines and also on gasoline engines, but we still need to test it will work on gasoline. It works for diesel engines just fine, that has already been tested. There is a difference in what plastic you use, if you use polyethylene (plastic cans, plastic foil, and all kind of flexible non break plastics) you will get out liquid fuel that will solidify as it cools into paraffin, it is still good for diesel engines as long as you use a heated fuel tank, because it needs to be heated just about at 30 degrees celsius to be liquid and transparent. If you don’t want that, you can put the paraffin through the device for one more time and you will chop those hydrocarbons even smaller and half of the paraffin will turn to liquid fuel and other half will remain a paraffin, but much denser and will melt at higher temperatures, this is the stuff you can make candles out of and it does not smell at all when burned, maybe a bit like candles. But if you use polypropylene (computer monitor cases, printer cases, other plastics that break easily), you get out only liquid fuel, no paraffin at all. All you need is just filter the fuel out of solids and you good to go and put it in your gas tank. We have made the analysis and it is almost the perfect diesel fraction. It has no acids or alkalines in it, like fuel from tires does. The unit in the pictures can convert about 60 kg of plastic into 60 liters of fuel in one day. Other methods of heating the reactor can be employed, electricity is just easier to work with and control. Some Japanese companies manufacture such devices, but their prices for this size unit is more than 100 000$, our home made device cost us 900$ max. We use aluminum oxide bricks to insulate the heat, they are light as foam and can be easily cut in any shape, but any kind of insulator can be used. The bricks make the highest costs for this device. It can also be made using liquid fuel burners to heat the reactor, this will enable to make the device self sustainable by using about 10-15% of the produced fuel along with the produced gas. A small farm can use a device this size and make fuel for itself by converting plastic waste to fuel, farms have very much plastic waste and it is a big problem, at least in my country. Our next goal is to make the same thing possible using biomass, every farm could then use old leafs, wet grass, saw dust and all kind of biomass and gasify it into tar like substance that can then be put through the pyrolysis device and turned into biodiesel. But we will see about that. Here are some fuel samples:These are samples from polyethylene, in the first run out comes mostly paraffin like liquid that solidifies at temperatures below 20 degrees celsius, the other clear sample is from the same paraffin that is gone through the process one more time.