Got oil?
July 8, 2007 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Need oil? Try microwaving your plastics.
posted by sunshinesky (23 comments total)

 
The video shows the tires before and after, but doesn't show any of the microwave process, I'd like to know how long it takes to go through all the frequencies they mention and how much energy it takes.
posted by furtive at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2007


OK. Let's start with these Truck Nutz.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2007


The first link says a company will be using it to recycle old cars (non-metal bits) and it generates enough fuel to power the microwave plus some other machines. So, it looks like a good method of keeping stuff out of landfills, but not a new source of energy.

I wonder what they do with the toxic gas that is produced.
posted by stbalbach at 9:33 AM on July 8, 2007


So I'm all for recycling and minimizing landfill, but I wonder what kind of noxious gases this process will produce. Or are the "combustible gases" mentioned in the first link implicitly not harmful? And what about particulates? I'm a scientific idiot, so be nice to me if it's obvious to science folk that the whole process was devised to help solve the problem of particulate pollution.

Also, "autofluff" is my new favorite word.
posted by scratch at 9:33 AM on July 8, 2007


[on preview] Hee! I'll bet weapons-grade panda has been just quivering with excitement for a chance to post that link into something even vaguely related.
posted by scratch at 9:35 AM on July 8, 2007


Nope. Spur of the moment. They were on MetaFilter previously.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:42 AM on July 8, 2007


It's the mindless consumption of so many useless oil products that feeds the culture of conquest for oil. With this "development" (I'm skeptical) we can ease our conscience into believing that it's renewable, and consume more.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2007


Great input! I knew the links were pretty bare-bones, but that's exactly why MeFi is great- you always bring up pertinent questions about the posts.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2007


Not a double, but this story reminded me of an older waste-into-something-valuable post.

If this technology is for real, it would certainly help the tire disposal problem at the very least.
posted by Tube at 10:06 AM on July 8, 2007


...what kind of noxious gases this process will produce...

Probably not too many, and those that it does would be fairly easy to manage.

Microwave-assisted processes (MAPs) like this have been kicking around for a while now. They work fine, but the problem is always that the end result is often cheaper by another method. They're a solution looking for a problem, in my opinion.

In this case, is it more expensive to burn the plastic in a plasma incinerator in one step rather than microwave it, then burn it? Maybe. It would be interesting to see their cost breakdowns.
posted by bonehead at 10:09 AM on July 8, 2007


Tube, your link is to the main competitor for this kind of technology, a power-generating plasma incinerator.
posted by bonehead at 10:12 AM on July 8, 2007


From a global warming perspective, this technology is actually bad. At least with landfills the CO2 is being sequestered underground. Burning the oil releases the CO2 into the atmosphere - and for what? To keep landfill space down. Not a great bargain. I think making plastic releases a lot of CO2 also so its a sort of double whammy.
posted by stbalbach at 10:23 AM on July 8, 2007


As I said in the the other thread about the plasma machine, even if it can power itself from the process it's still hugely valuable. Landfills aren't infinite, and that's your groundwater you're throwing this stuff into.

I'm also curious about how long it takes. Can it do ten tires every ten seconds? One per minute?

This sort of machine would seem to be ideal for a high-sunlight place like the southwest. The machine could be powered by solar and produce fuel which could then be shipped elsewhere.
posted by maxwelton at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2007


Also, "autofluff" is my new favorite word.

What a coincidence -- my high school nickname was "autofluffer," . . . but on second thought, let's not get into that.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2007


Makes me wonder if the regular household microwave oven could be made to cook better if multiple frequencies were used.
posted by eye of newt at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2007


I wonder if the process could aid in powering this cleanup effort.
posted by distant figures at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2007


Makes me wonder if the regular household microwave oven could be made to cook better if multiple frequencies were used.

That's what I was thinking. 'Cause you know, I always wanted to own my own refinery.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:52 AM on July 8, 2007


Burning the oil releases the CO2 into the atmosphere - and for what

Worse yet if the waste gas is methane ("combustible gas")
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:37 PM on July 8, 2007


Plastic doesn't produce methane in landfills. It's stuff like kitchen waste that makes methane.
posted by stbalbach at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2007


Plastic doesn't produce methane in landfills

I'm referring the oil recovery process described in the link.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 PM on July 8, 2007


eye of newt writes "Makes me wonder if the regular household microwave oven could be made to cook better if multiple frequencies were used."

Unlikely. Microwaves ranges work by flexing bipolar molecules in food, which then warms everything else. Different frequencies aren't going make any difference unless a different heating action came into play.
posted by Mitheral at 3:03 PM on July 8, 2007


also - an amazing superweapon !
posted by Shakeer at 11:54 PM on July 8, 2007


Landfills aren't infinite, and that's your groundwater you're throwing this stuff into.

Urban sprawl and other human land use, heavy metals and PCBs, and over fishing, as well as the obvious Global Warming, are the serious environmental problems. Landfill is a minor contributer to a couple of those, so it really isn't a big problem.

I'm still very much in favour of sensible application of the three R's though, as long as people remember the correct order:
REDUCE - REUSE - RECYCLE
posted by Chuckles at 8:29 AM on July 9, 2007


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