Huge New Fuel Source Found: Old Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Obbop Obbop on Apr 21, 2010

    Be an organ donor and assist in the recycling of people. Curious how many btu's could be recycled by burning bodies for fuel in a power pant after organs and other components are harvested/recycled. With the horde of human heifers stampeding (well, waddling) around the Missouri Ozarks area those immense rolls of blubber might possibly keep a power plant burning night and day for perpetuity....or perhaps pert-near forever, y'all.

  • George B George B on Apr 21, 2010

    Can't they just burn the plastic directly as fuel in a high temperature furnace like at a cement plant? Not sure what this process adds vs. directly burning the leftover fluff.

  • Tparkit Tparkit on Apr 21, 2010

    Complete eco-stimulus bunk... another taxpayer-subsidized enviroboondoggle. And there's nothing green about windmills, unless we're talking about the money burned to tap their paltry useable (real-world) output.

  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Apr 21, 2010

    this sounds worse than fischer tropsch