reply to post by maddy21
Looking this over, it seems to me that although there will obviously be a use of energy and infrastructure (some sort of facility) in order to
convert plastic waste into useful fuel, and that looked at too closely, it would appear inefficient to operate that way. However, think about it this
way if you will.
Right now, someone is scouring the Earth for new oil resources. They fly on planes, take helicopter rides, take a boat with the capability to deliver
a submersible to study the ocean floor, drive four wheel drive vehicles, drag geophysics gear with them. Thats using fuel, to find more oil, to make
fuel out of. Then, once they find the oil, they do a deal with a government to be allowed to drill the oil (which involves a few visits to the nation
in question, to talk to energy ministers, environment ministers, lunches, dinners, and many miles more of travel and fuel use). Then, once that
process has been completed, thousands upon thousands of tons of equipment (expending yet more fuel) is moved into the area which contains the oil. The
company then drills into the Earth, either under the water in the sea (which is dangerous to the environment if badly handled), or on land. This
requires the input of hundreds of men and women.
Rig workers need to be transported to the rigs, which may require hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles on board an aircraft, followed by another
ride, probably on a helicopter. Their food needs to be transported too, and replenished often enough that the rig workers have the energy to stay
tightly focused on safety and efficiency at work. The product, the raw oil, is then pumped to shore to be refined, a process which requires quite a
bit of energy output. Then, it is fractioned into its useful components. This involves heating the crude oil, because as you probably know, crude oil
becomes several different types of useful fuels and products when heated. The heating process is energy heavy as well. Then the products which result
are transported to petrol stations, or bottled up, depending on thier particular use. This also uses more energy.
Now... rather than doing all that searching, moving, drilling, heating, moving, using all that energy, we could just find some plastic bags (which
hardly requires a particularly vast travel expenditure) stuff them into a machine to heat and repurpose the chemical components of the trash, and turn
it into useful fuel. Remember, this waste has ALREADY been drilled up from the guts of the Earth, and through the process described above, so using it
again saves energy no matter which way you slice it, even if the repurposing action is less energy effective than we might like.
I think it is well worth looking into further.