Plastic trash to fuel global flight
Flying 10,500 miles “On Wings of Waste.”
Pilot Jeremy Rowsell plans to fly his small Cessna aircraft halfway around the world. With stops to refuel in troubled territories and thousands of ocean miles to cross, he’s now in specialized training that will teach him how to survive a kidnapping or a nosedive into the ocean. But the risks are not what makes this particular flight plan newsworthy.
Rowsell will be flying an airplane fueled by plastic trash.
The fuel for Rowsell’s plane will be provided by Cynar, one of a handful of companies around the globe converting discarded plastic into liquid fuel. In a process called "pyrolysis," a synthetic diesel is created by heating “end of life” plastics (ELP), or plastic waste that can’t be reused or recycled.
Plastic products are currently being produced at a rate of about 300 million tons per year, and a good 85 percent of it ends up in landfills or dumped into the oceans. But most plastic is petroleum based, and new technologies enable "ecopreneurs" like Cynar to make the conversion to diesel without polluting the air. The end product is a highly efficient fuel with minimal carbon emissions. Pyrolysis yields minimal waste, too: The 5 percent of char resulting from the heating process can be used in the manufacturing of building materials like concrete and tile.
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The project, dubbed “On Wings of Waste,” is less a test of the fuel — its viability has already been proven — than it is a message in the air. Rowsell is hopeful his flight will help the industry producing ELP fuel to overcome stubborn obstacles such as lack of capital support and the inaccurate perception that plastic-derived gas is inferior to fossil fuels and biofuels.
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Cynar can currently convert about 20 tons of ELP plastic into 5,000 gallons of fuel per day. For Rowsell’s 10,500-mile trip from Sydney to London, he’ll need about a thousand gallons of synthetic fuel, or the equivalent of five tons of plastic.
That’s a lot of water bottles, detergent containers and plastic packaging. Better to see it burning cleanly across the sky than choking our landfills and oceans.
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Photo: Jeremy Rowsell / Courtesy @altitude.com.au
Being forever the cyinict [sp}, Why aren't t
he money people jumpimg all over this development?
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