An ingenious new invention from a Japanese scientist has the potential to solve two staggering environmental problems at once.
Akinori Ito's machine turns plastic waste into fuel--and it could be the solution we've been waiting for to curb our dependence on foreign oil and dispose of the unimaginable amount of plastic waste we create every year.
Since the plastic in bags, bottles, caps and other packaging materials is made from oil, all Ito had to do was discover a way to return it to its original form. The machine uses a carbon-negative process; first, the plastic is heated up, and the resulting vapors are trapped in a system of pipes and chambers. The vapors are cooled and then condensed back into crude oil. At that stage, the crude can be used in generators and certain types of stoves. It can also be further refined into gasoline.
Although the machine currently costs $10,000, Ito says the price should fall as demand and production increase. Built for home use, the device is small and efficient. It can convert 1 kg of plastic into a liter of oil using only 1 kw/hr of energy.