New Technology From Germany Converts Plastic Into Diesel

Tons of plastic floats in the seas, entire regions suffocate in the garbage, and animals eat themselves to death from plastics. What can we do about this plastic hell on earth?

A Saxon company from Rossendorf near Dresden has developed a machine that could save the world from garbage suffocation. One kilogram of plastic is converted into one litre of fuel by a technology developed by Biofabrik - for example, for marine diesel engines or power generators.

▶︎ Garbage is converted in such a way again into a tradeable product in the wahrsten sense of the word - and thus into money.

Vehicle World Great Pacific Garbage Patch
There is more than enough of the garbage: More than 400 million tons of plastic are produced world-wide per year, between 1950 and 2015 it was altogether 8.3 billion tons. Hardly a tenth was recycled. Every German, for example, generates an average of 38 kilograms of plastic waste per year.

▶︎ This is the vision: deep-sea fishermen dispose of garbage from their nets directly on board and receive fuel from it. Tourists and locals use the containers to keep beaches clean, get money for them, for example via Paypal, or get a free cocktail at the beach bar.

The technology can also help in crisis regions; a facility is to be installed in the world's largest refugee camp for the Rohingya in Bangladesh. "The refugees will then be able to convert the plastic packaging of the relief supplies into fuel for the power generators directly on-site, so that they can load cell phones, for example," says Oliver Riedel, founder of Biofabrik.

Drink Plastic Recycling

A ton of garbage a day

For Oliver Riedel, the large grey container "WASTX Plastic", in which it booms and stinks of oil, is a "heart project": "With our technology, people may start collecting more plastic on the beach or in the sea.

This would not only shrink the mountain of rubbish, but also produce fuel: "Because many islands that have a plastic rubbish problem also have an energy problem."

▶︎ The prototype, which has now been completed after almost ten years of research, can process around 250 kilograms of plastic waste per day into fuel. The series modules are expected to produce 1000 kilograms per day - i.e. 1000 liters of fuel. With a real added value of about 1000 euros (before taxes).

Thanks to the successful research result, "we are sitting on one of the largest oil fields in the world," says Riedel.

Not reinventing the wheel

The procedure itself is not a reinvention: In pyrolysis, a thermo-chemical cleavage process, plastics are converted to gas or liquid at high temperatures.

▶︎ The Biofabrik engineers (a team of about 25 scientists and mechatronics engineers) have developed special reactors: In these reactors, shredded plastic waste is heated to 500 degrees Celsius with the removal of oxygen, and waste such as sand and salt is filtered out.

In the end, a dark, viscous liquid with diesel properties drips out. "Royal jelly," as Riedel calls it.