Monday, June 13, 2011 issues report on JBI's P2O process

Plastics-to-fuel commercialisation a step nearer
By Barry Copping
Posted 13 June 2011 12:04 pm GMT

JBI’s John Bordynuik: Process refinements enhance cost-effectiveness and cleanliness of fuels from waste

A New York State company claims to be the furthest advanced in North America in producing fuel oils and gases from waste plastic. The goal of converting plastics to fuel has been the Holy Grail of recycling for years, but only recently has the process been made commercially viable.

Niagara Falls-based JBI Inc. announced in May that Oxy Vinyl Canada, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, has agreed to purchase JBI's low-sulphur heating oil from the company’s pilot-scale facility for $110 per barrel (42.5p per litre).

JBI's Plastic2Oil process converts mixed waste plastic into separated diesel, heating oil, and light naphtha fuels. The company’s CEO John Bordynuik has designed quality controls, fuel blending, and automatic additive injection so that the fuel produced is a final product, unlike crude oil.

Bordynuik said his invention allows JBI to produce fuel at a fraction of the cost of major refineries, and can convert two tons of plastic into 109 barrels (17,300 litres) of fuel.

JBI's Plastic2Oil (P2O) process accepts mixed sources of waste non-recyclable plastic, focusing initially on post-commercial and industrial sources, since these are readily available in large supply, and present a cost-effective solution for companies who currently have to pay to dispose of this plastic waste.

The feedstock is passed through a shredder and granulator before being loaded into a reactor with a payload of 1800 pounds (820kg), which is processed in less than one hour. The plastic is heated in a processor chamber using its own previously made off-gas, stored in a gas compression system. By compressing, storing and then using the gaseous byproduct to power itself, P2O achieves internal recycling, which adds to efficiency and cost reduction, says the company.

In the reactor, the plastic hydrocarbons are cracked into various shorter hydrocarbon chains and exit in a gaseous state. JBI's proprietary catalyst and process engineering are claimed to capture nearly 90% of the waste’s hydrocarbon content of plastic. Any residue or non-usable substances (about 2%) remain in the processor chamber and are automatically removed. From the processor, the gases containing gasoline and diesel are condensed and separated for storage. All the gaseous "light fractions" (off-gas), such as methane, ethane, butane and propane are liquefied by compression and sold separately.

Bordynuik plans to build two more processors at Niagara Falls to train operators on, then install them at companies that generate a lot of plastic and send trained operators to run them.

He commented: "We're doing joint ventures with large companies where we [will] go in and build it on their site," he said. "We're not selling the machines. We're going to own and operate and run them."

Bordynuik said he chose to locate his "plastic2oil" processors in Western New York because of a spectrum of local support, from politicians to the machine shops which are making the parts used in the processing machines.

JBI’s largest competitor in plastics-to-fuel processing is Dow Chemical. According to a report funded by the American Chemistry Council and published in April, there are 23 companies worldwide that have successfully developed technology to convert some plastics into fuel. When the study was published, no North American group had yet completed a fully commercial-scale plastics-to-fuel conversion machine.

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