Surfers Without Borders: a new fuel friend

Surfers Without Borders have presented the results of the "Plastic to Oil" demonstration, held at the Orella Stewardship Institute. The new technology allows everyone to transform normal everyday plastic into gasoline, kerosene and diesel for your surf trips. At the beach, if you need to refuel, pick up some trash and transform it again.

This is definitely not the only answer to the huge global issue of marine debris, but it is really helpful. The machine will head to Santa Barbara and will be shown by doing beach clean-ups and transforming plastic.

For the past several years, Surfers Without Borders have been researching various methods of producing energy from waste. While there are many clean ways to get electricity from biomass or organic matter, the NGO was particularly looking for ways to create an incentive for people to clean up the ocean, mainly the plastic that has gathered itself and our attention in the Northern Pacific Gyre.

After many sessions surfing the internet, Surfers Without Borders came across a pretty promising process and series of machines designed by the Blest Corporation of Japan. After contacting them, they were put in touch with their US representatives, E-N-ergy Inc.

The machines range from a small desktop units to large continuous processing machines and refiners that can handle up to multiple tons of plastic waste. The plastics are put into the melting chamber where they are heated to around 420 deg C, at which point the plastic boils and the hot gasses are run through a water bath to be condensed into oil.

The desktop unit uses one kilowatt of electricity to convert one kilogram of plastic into one liter of oil, at a cost of around US $0.25. The oil can then be further refined back through the same machine into gasoline, kerosene, and diesel. A small amount of ash is left over, and the off-gasses are turned into CO2 and water with a catalytic converter, or can be used to run a generator.

The process is called pyrolysis and is a tried and true method for converting almost any type of material into energy. Material is super heated in the absence of oxygen, so does not combust, but vaporizes into gas. Since there is no combustion, the process is relatively clean.