Chris Ulum, chief executive at Agilyx, says he knows a place where crude oil can be extracted economically, easily and in an environmentally friendly manner.
It’s called the municipal dump.
The Beaverton, Oregon-based company cooks dirty plastics into hydrocarbons that can be subsequently converted into diesel, jet fuel or other petrochemicals. The company has produced over 250,000 gallons at its prototype facility over three years.
By the end of 2013, landfill owners on three continents will be producing millions of gallons of fuel with manufacturing modules supplied by Agilyx. Even if oil drops to $65 a barrel, many of these trash barons will be able to turn a profit, he adds. Roughly 8.5 pounds of plastic can generate a gallon of fuel.
“All we are really doing is reclaiming hydrocarbons,” Ulum said. “No one can accumulate waste indefinitely.”
“The world is awash in waste rubber,” says Alan Barton, chief executive of Lehigh Technologies. “Nearly everything we’ve ever thrown away is still here.”
Lehigh employs mills, originally created to destroy expired pharmaceuticals, to recycle tires into micronized rubber powder: a pound of recycled rubber saves close to a gallon of oil. It may not make petroleum, but it winnows demand. So far, Lehigh has the manufacturing capacity to produce 140 million pounds of powder a year and has incorporated its powder into 100 million tires.
His price floor is $40 a barrel oil.
LanzaTech, meanwhile, will later this year take the wraps off a demonstration plant outside of Shanghai that will convert the carbon monoxide from a steel mill into 100,000 gallons of ethanol a year. Other steel mills and oil companies are already in discussions with the company about fermenters that will generate millions of gallons a year.
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