Published On: Fri, Dec 23rd, 2011

Oregon Startup Makes Crude Oil from Plastic

Oregon-based alternative energy start-up Agilyx says it has developed a system to convert difficult-to-recycle discarded plastics into

synthetic crude oil. The technology has been in development for a year and a half, and the company predicts that it will be ready for commercial sales in mid-2012.

The system vaporizes the plastics and then condenses the vapor into oil. The modular system currently under development, according to the company, will be capable of converting 10,000 pounds of plastic into 60 barrels of synthetic crude oil a day.

Once the technology is developed, Agilyx plans to sell the modules to trash companies, which would own and operate the machinery and sell the synthetic crude oil to refiners. Technologies like this one, dubbed “resource recovery,” are becoming increasingly attractive as solid-waste stockpiles grow and extraction of virgin materials becomes more costly. Agilyx predicts that its systems will provide owners a 25 percent rate of return on their investment, and major players in the trash industry, such as Waste Management, have already invested in the company.

Resource recovery has its limitations, however: plastic is still non-renewable, and burning even recovered oil still contributes to global warming.


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