By on April 21, 2010

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.

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18 Comments on “Huge New Fuel Source Found: Old Cars...”

  • avatar

    Pyrolysis is old… it just is expensive. What is new about this news? When oil is expensive enough it will be done more frequently… plastic from cars or any other plastic.
    to me that is just another try to get someone to invest… but it isn’t news, and not the first ones that have done that.

  • avatar

    EPIC WIN for the enviroment.

    EPIC FAIL for the used parts / junkyard market. This way, there’s no incentive to dismantle a car for useable parts before crushing it.

    • 0 avatar

      Not necessarily, but I share your concern. I would think that the value for the parts as parts would be greater than the value derived as fuel/materials. I could see that some of the older stuff might be “converted” sooner than it might have been had this alternative not existed, but as long as the parts sell in decent numbers they will be available. The downside of course will be the ability to go to a “pick and pull” yard for an old car. Many an enthusiast (like myself) started here pulling parts and options for their first car. This experience is what separates the real car people from their clean-hand counterparts…

      I hope the idea of a “deposit” on a car does not come to pass. For certain things it makes great sense. The bottle deposit comes to mind (which should be a national,not state requirement as it is a great way to eliminate litter) but a car, even a wrecked one has enough residual value on its own. Lets not find a way to help car thieves make money on end-of-life cars…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This is a very old technology as far as ‘clean energy’ goes. In fact, one of the most interesting companies of modern time was called ‘Molten Metal Technologies’ which used many of the same processes to rid the world of various hazardous wastes.

    Unfortunately it’s not a financially viable technology. Only a government or a very affluent company in need of severe environmental credits would be interested in this.

    It’s not impossible… just impractical.

  • avatar

    There are ways to do some of this with bacteria that are less financially problematic, but they’re also slow and have trouble with toxicity.

    Mind you, some of the fungus that Paul’s photographed eating various CCs might be reasonable candidates.

  • avatar

    Maybe those vast pods of floating plastic in the Pacific will power our great-grandchildrens’ Waterworld sea-doos.

    • 0 avatar

      You had to mention that, didn’t you? The North Pacific Gyre’s Sea of Plastic is singularly depressing.

    • 0 avatar

      They were talking about that on the radio this morning after that gray whale turned up dead on the West Seattle beach last weekend with a belly full of plastic and garbage.

    • 0 avatar

      The even more depressing part is that there is now plastic in the water over a much wider horizon.

      Beyond the visible monster rafts, as the plastic breaks down in size, it travels even more readily. So, you have fractional MM, down to micron-size plastic particulate in measurable quantities all sorts of places in the ocean.

      But hey. At least it’s not radioactive, or unwanted bioweapons. We know where we dumped/lost most of that stuff. Most of it…

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar
    George B

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    this sounds worse than fischer tropsch

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