DIY Plastic to Oil

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Introduction: DIY Plastic to Oil

About: Contact: pranav28.om@gmail.com

"Till date nothing has proven to be a truly effective or environmentally responsible solution to the burgeoning global landfill problem. In fact, many existing solutions have been just the opposite: costly, energy inefficient or equally as harmful to the environment as the plastic itself. "

It is only now, that with the evolving pyrolysis technology, there is a solution that is remarkably simple, economically viable and "green" as well.

Pyrolysis is a thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperature without the participation of oxygen. In this process long polymer molecules are broken down into shorter chains of hydrocarbons with the help of heat and pressure. You can learn more about this process here: How to make oil from plastic

Some benefits of pyrolysis are that the process does not generate harmful pollutants and that the by-products can be used as fuel for running the plant. In the case of plastic, some of the valuable fuels and solvents that can be extracted through waste plastic pyrolysis are fuels like gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and high-value ones like benzene, toluene and xylene. And a kilo of waste (typically PP) can yield upto a litre of fuel whereas the incineration of the same quantity of plastic would produce 3 kilos of CO2!

This technology is growing in popularity and in demand. Commercial machines for home are still expensive. But with the following method, you can convert waste plastic to fuel all by yourself!

If you like this project, do vote for it!

Step 1: Procedure

WARNING:

You will be working with highly inflammable substances. So do take the following precautions:

  • Avoid inhaling the potentially harmful fumes
  • Keep the fumes, produced in the reaction, away from fire and from electrical points
  • Work in well ventilated spaces
  • Keep some water and a fire extinguisher on stand-by in case of an accident

Construction of prototype pyrolysis reactor

  1. Build a robust leak-proof reactor chamber
  2. Build a condensation tube of copper, steel, or aluminium
  3. Build a system for monitoring the temperature of the feed
  4. Build a system to efficiently condense and collect the mixture of products

Step 2: Build the Reactor

Before getting down to work, first decide the scale of your setup.

Ideally, 1 kg of plastic can produce 1 kg of fuel. For getting a good yield, you can use polypropylene i.e. any plastic product with the mark PP or '5'.

The reactor that I built has a capacity of about 100g.

So while selecting the container for your reactor, keep in mind the following considerations:

  • It must be a robust metal container
  • Its shape will affect the reaction speed, intensity and chemistry
  • It must be easily openable and cleanable, yet...it MUST be perfectly leak-proof!

I used a stainless steel vessel and clamped it with a bolted aluminum strip. Next I drilled a hole in the centre of the lid for the outlet of the fuel vapour.

Step 3: Condensing Energy

Back in the reactor, the plastic is converted to vapourized fuel above 400C.

You need to convert this vapour to liquid by passing it through a condenser. Once again, it needs to be robust, heat resistant and leak-proof. I used copper pipes (used as condensate piping in A/Cs and refrigerators) but you can you aluminium or steel.

The length of the condenser may not be sufficient for the circulating water to bring the 400C vapour to room temperature. So you'll need to further bubble it into water and then seperate the floating oil from the denser water. Let me know if you come up with a smarter way for doing this!

Step 4: Start Producing Black Gold

Once you are done with the construction work, start the fascinating process of converting trash to black gold!

Here's how:

1. Collect some waste plastic items and shred them to pieces for faster and better reaction

2. Seal the shredded plastic tightly in the reactor chamber

3. Setup the equipment on your stove and turn on the inlet water flow

4. Turn on the stove, stand back, and watch the spectacle!

Initially you'll see fumes flowing out of the condenser, then drops will trickle, and finally you'll have a stream of usable oil flowing out! At the end of the reaction, when you open the chamber that was initially full, you'll be surprised to find it empty, only charred.

The trash disappears and all you are left with is usable oil of high calorific value. Light the obtained fuel and witness it burn flawlessly and for long! If you want to obtain refined usable products from this mixture, you can do so by careful fractional distillation. Although few people can extract the different product of pyrolysis, we successfully did! After successive distillations, we extracted four distinct products, which on the basis of boiling point, odour and calorific values, were concluded to be benzene, toluene and even a mixture similar to diesel!

Waste is a misplaced resource...your trashcan is a treasure chest.

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Participated in the
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2 People Made This Project!

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94 Comments

0
Imperar
Imperar

Question 18 days ago

How much energy (kWh or MJ) is required to turn 1kg of plastic into oil?

0
dguercio1984
dguercio1984

Tip 4 months ago

The condenser you used is the correct way of doing this however you have your gas and air side mixed up look up shell and tube heat exchangers and power plant condensers by the time your done building it you would probably have another instructable you could post, the direct contact heat exchanger is also correct however there should be a seperate water/oil separator that circulates the exchanger mixture through a series of baffles and returns the water back to the separator the only other thing I think should be addressed is the burner/reactor I wonder if the energy density of this fuel would be enough to make a self sustaining system that could burn some of the reclaimed fuel to power the reactor process?

0
msagent
msagent

6 years ago

Is there any explosion or burning issues ?

0
DPeeps
DPeeps

Reply 4 months ago

yep you should do this outside away from anything any gas is coming out of the last pipe are probably flammable if you are using a flame to heat the container you could pipe the gas back to the flame and just flare it off to heat the mixture but be careful very careful did I say really very careful your homeowners insurance probably wouldn't cover an explosion in the house

0
DamithaN
DamithaN

Reply 5 years ago

Read the article again.

0
jayceeluengo
jayceeluengo

4 years ago

How many atmospheres there must be to achieve pyrolysis conditions?

0
DPeeps
DPeeps

Reply 4 months ago

this system is essentially at atmospheric pressure the key here is keep air from getting into the system oxygen-free

0
p7810456
p7810456

5 years ago

Can you use biomass (like grass clippings) instead of plastic and also get some sort of liquid similar to gasoline?

0
DPeeps
DPeeps

Reply 4 months ago

you would more likely get an alcohol ethanol or methanol from grass

0
frankmci
frankmci

Reply 4 years ago

Yes, you can. Take a look for wood gassification and condensation. It's the same idea, only starting with a different set of hydrocarbons.

0
RubieR
RubieR

Question 3 years ago

Hi! Thanks for all the information. I am exploring the opportunity of making a mobile pyrolisis system. How much diesel is required to run the system? Do you have an idea about the optimal scale? Anyone tried it out? and how can we fractional distillate the output (to run an egine)? Thanks!

0
DPeeps
DPeeps

Answer 4 months ago

in general this pyrolysis of anything requires more energy than you would get out of it so you would need a very cheap source of energy such as scrap wood etc to get the diesel to use in another engine

0
DPeeps
DPeeps

Reply 4 months ago

in the case of using more energy you would need to do a cost analysis to see if made sense to make diesel as opposed to purchasing diesel or any of the other by products

1
MorneeS
MorneeS

Tip 3 years ago

Easiest way to separate oil from water;

1. Symphony off majority of water with a plastic hose.

2. Place container of oil and water in the freezer

3. Wait till water is frozen

4. Remove frozen water immediately

😎

0
RowanW2
RowanW2

Reply 9 months ago

That's clever, but I also try make these inventions acceptable for other people in the home such as my wife finding stuff in her freezer :D

I work in wastewater treatment where we separate oily material from water all the time.
Oil/water separation must be done:
1. Either by gravity in a chamber with laminar flow (can't be done in the bubbling chamber or anywhere that mixing occurs), only if the oil separates well
2. Or by making a Dissolved Air Flotation system, also in an unmixed chamber. The easiest way to do this at home is actually electrolysis of water to generate hydrogen microbubbles. I used a 220VAc to 12VDc car battery charger, connected to the electrode plate set of a swimming pool electrochlorinator.
The hydrogen could be added to the off-gas mixture if it is captured and burned.
3. Or use a combination of the above. Easily separating oil can first be obtain by laminar flow gravity separation, and the water or emulsion underneath can be passed to a DAF. The "float" or scum from the DAF can be sent back to the gravity separator.

There are a lot of ways to engineer this, best thing is to obtain a sample of the oil/water mixture and play with the above techniques on lab scale. Then you can figure out what works best for a home design.

0
FranzelA
FranzelA

Question 4 years ago

Hi, can I use any kind of pipes aside from copper, aluminum and steel?

0
patrickc278
patrickc278

Question 4 years ago

I'm a college engineering student and I'm interested with your reaearch. I want to know how did you maintain 400 C using only stove. And what is the thickness of your reactor to withstand 400 C? And did you use any catalyst because other videos did not used catalyst and their oil is color black

0
nalininahagamkar79
nalininahagamkar79

Answer 10 months ago

dont worry on stove it provide 1ooo degreee celecus

0
abhinandu1234
abhinandu1234

6 years ago

can we make petrol from this oil using fractional distilation?