Talk about unfortunate timing: Just as the scrapping incentives all around the world are running out, a Japanese company found a way to turn old cars into fuel.
According to The Nikkei [sub], Japan’s JFE Engineering Corp. is set to open an automobile recycling center that turns the increasing amounts of plastics found in a car back into fuel.
The Nikkei says that the Kanagawa plant (halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama) will open in July. It has the capacity to process some 40,000 tons of scrap a year, which comes from automobile crushing sites in the Tokyo area. When the plant is through with the scrap, 9,000 tons of steel, copper and other valuable metals will have been sorted out. The sorting magnets are especially green: They use wind power. The many plastics in the cars will be put under pressure to create 30,000 tons of fuel a year.
Europe will be taking note of the new technology. Japan and Europe have strict end-of-life regulations on the books. In Europe, the manufacturer has to bear the cost to remove the dead vehicle off the road in an environmentally responsible way. In Japan, the cost is born by the consumer, in form of a deposit when the new car is bought. In the end, the consumer always pays. The new technology possibly could lessen the burden.
The cost of the new plant is vaguely described as “billions of yen,” but the return of investment promises to be considerable. JFE wants to generate 1.5 billion yen in revenue by fiscal 2013. They get their money twice: through disposal fees, and from selling recovered metals and the produced fuel. Imagine a refinery that gets paid for graciously taking the crude.