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Plastic2Oil process turns plastic waste into fuel


July 4, 2011

The Plastic2Oil plant in Niagara Falls, New York, converts non-recyclable plastic into fuel (Photo: JBI)

The Plastic2Oil plant in Niagara Falls, New York, converts non-recyclable plastic into fuel (Photo: JBI)

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While a lot of people may be doing their part for the environment by sending their discarded plastic items off for recycling, the fact is that much of the plastic currently in use is non-recyclable. In a not particularly eco-friendly process, some of this plastic is burned to generate electricity, while much of it simply ends up in landfills. Canadian company JBI, however, has developed a process that uses those plastics as a feedstock, and turns them into fuel.

JBI's Plastic2Oil process starts with a variety of unwashed post-commercial and industrial non-recyclable plastics, which are fed through a shredder and a granulator - the system can handle up to 1,800 pounds (816.5 kg) at a time. It is then heated in a process chamber, after which it proceeds into the main reactor. There, a proprietary (read "secret") reusable catalyst is used to crack the plastic's hydrocarbons into shorter hydrocarbon chains, which exit the plastic in a gaseous state. Those gases are captured, compressed and stored.

Gases containing gasoline and diesel can be condensed and separated, the resulting liquid fuel then temporarily stored in tanks. Methane, ethane, butane and propane "off-gas" out of those tanks, and are subsequently compressed and stored themselves. The butane and propane liquefy upon compression, allowing them to be separated, stored and sold, while the others are used to help power the system. Emissions that make it into the atmosphere are said to be less than those that would be produced by a natural gas furnace.

The whole process, for one 1,800-pound load, reportedly takes less than an hour. According to JBI, almost 90 percent of the plastic's hydrocarbon content is captured and converted into fuel. Approximately two percent of the feedstock is left over as waste, which can be removed while the system is operating. It can then be dumped in a landfill, or burned for fuel, as it has a heating value of 10,600 BTU/lb (24,656 kJ/kg).

On June 14th, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued the permits necessary for JBI's Niagara Falls three-processor pilot plant to begin operations. The plant, which has a footprint of 1,000 square feet (93 sq. m.), is capable of processing 22 tons of plastic per day, and operates continuously.

The company now plans on opening up more Plastic2Oil plants, and will concentrate on building a few plants each containing several processors, as opposed to many plants each with one processor - this is said to make the most sense for keeping construction costs down, and for maximizing production capacity. Some of the plants will be managed and owned solely by JBI, while others will be run as joint ventures.

A similar system, that utilizes a fluidized bed reactor for converting non-recyclable plastics into a variety of products, is being developed by the University of Warwick in the UK.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

It may prove to be more cost effective in some places, to run all post consumer plastic through this process, rather than spent the energy to ship it to recycling plant.


Consider this: The worlds oceans are full of plastics that wait to be picked up and fed into this kind of reuse system. This could be a new fish industry branch. Filter the top 50 meters of ocean water for plastics. Being in the new \"green\" industry would also remove one of the major challenges our oceans face with the abount of plastic that is in them today.

sources: http://www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/kamaral/plasticsarticle.html http://news.discovery.com/earth/how-much-plastic-is-in-the-ocean.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

Dany Ehrenbrink

WOW....that is awesome technology........looks like the waste plastic problem is SOLVED.....z

Hans Brost

I recommend all who are interested in this article do research on JBI (OTC:JBII)

It\'s a fully reporting public company in which you can buy shares! -Unlike every other company/academy trying to convert plastic into usable fuel. If anyone is interestef in their recent fuel sales and their signed contracts, take a looks at : http://investorshub.advfn.com/boards/board.aspx?board_id=15341

A LOT of info can be found there, including the info on the environmental permits and emissions testing that the company passed with flying colours. Only commercially viable plastic conversion system in the world- that is clean and green!

Slav Ilyin

Start mining those aforementioned landfills for plastic too. There are huge amounts of plastic in those mountains that are of both the \"recyclable\" and \"non-recyclable\" kind. Build these plants all around the country in every large metropolitan area and you\'ve got something important going. At this point I see little, if any, drawbacks to this approach. It should be encouraged as much as possible.

Neil Larkins

I recommend every region or county (whichever makes economic sense) that now recycles and landfill plastic to get one of these gizmos and fuel their vehicles with them; they could sell any surplus.

William Moran

This is old news. How sad it\'s so long for this stuff to become mainstream.

I wonder if it\'s based on the 1978 patents of Andrea Rossi who\'s now working in the USA. His work, once hugely successful, was trashed by competitors and government stooges in Italy\'s corrupt North. He was arrested as polluter and generator of toxic waste - but this project is doing exactly what he was doing. Identical!



Cam Macduff

OK, so it\'s been done before. Does that make it any less viable? No. It makes it more viable. Be nice to get the corrupt Italian government to go back to Mr. Rossi and apologize, but it won\'t happen of course. This is not the first time something like this has happened and it won\'t be the last. If Mr. Rossi were indeed the originator of this idea at least the world can now benefit from it. And if Rossi is still around, he could too...in a number of ways. Don\'t have to say what those ways are.

Neil Larkins

Heartiest congratulations to Canadian Company JBI for turning an experimental venture into commercial production. This will indeed be a boon in removing the hazards of plastic pollution and at the same time provide the most precious \'OIL\'.

Although I had some class X students try this in one of the exhibitions in Delhi, India, I was wondering why such ideas cannot translate themselves into commercial production when every one looks for a solution to such critical problems.

Congrats once again and I hope you will widen the activity for larger benefit of the globe.


Good on them!!!

Expanding on Dany Ehrenbrink\'s idea: how about building the recycling factory into a ship and cleaning up the great Pacific garbage patch?

I would love to see if this is feasible...

Edgar Walkowsky

Is this the same Andrea Rossi who is commercializing Cold Fusion?



I would like to know the yield %. How much litre of gas from 1 tonne of plastic?

Koshy Varghese
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