Cessna Plane Runs on Fuel Derived from Recycled Plastic

Jeremy Rowsell Explaining His Flight Plans Using Only Recycled-Plastic Fuel
Jeremy Rowsell Explaining His Flight Plans Using Only Recycled-Plastic Fuel

In order to prove it, one Australian pilot, Jeremy Rowsell, is going to fly his Cessna from Sydney, Australia to London, England using only fuel derived from recycled plastic.

Currently, the most abundant fuels on the planet are hydrocarbons, specifically petroleum which is extracted from underground, or undersea, reservoirs. Petroleum, when refined, doesn’t only end up as gasoline, diesel fuel, or jet fuel. Heavier fractions are used for heating oil, lubricants, and even asphalt. Lighter fractions are used in other industries. Synthetic plastics are also derived from petroleum.

One benefit and curse of synthetic plastic is its longevity and durability. In use, plastic is used to keep food clean and fresh, to keep automobile passengers safe in a crash, among other functions. On the other hand, at the end of its life, plastic finds its way into landfills and streets and even in the ocean, where it may fracture and grind into a pulp, but never degrades.

Chemistry can change petroleum based plastics into other petrochemicals, including fuel. Pyrolysis is a chemical reaction in which recycled plastic is heated in an oxygen-free environment. The resulting liquid can be distilled into a fuel very close to diesel used in aircraft like Jeremy Rowsell’s Cessna.

“You look down at that garbage in the Pacific, and you see the result of what it’s doing,” said Rowsell, making this daring flight on recycled-plastic fuel because he believes “that unless we do something to give back to the planet, we’re stuffed.”

The 10,500-mile flight will still generate carbon dioxide and other emissions, but is still somewhat cleaner than current fuels. Additionally, thousands of pounds of plastic is no longer in a landfill or in the ocean.


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  • RobertS1

    Why did the NTSB walk away from their own Safety Recommendation, A-83-6, after closing it with the status, CLOSED UNACCEPTABLE ACTION? Why did FAA Safety Recommendations 99.283 & 99.284 about undetectable water in Cessna integral fuel tanks vanish into thin air? What prompted FAA SAIB CE-10-40R1 issued July 30, 2010 and SAIB CE-12-06 issued November 2, 2011 both warning pilots about the hazards associated with water contamination of Cessna fuel tank systems? Why did the NTSB ignore my Petition about this anomaly? http://www.sumpthis.com/ntsbpetition/ntsbpetitioncontents.htm Aircraft takes off and changes it attitude. When it takes off and changes its attitude could water hiding in the fuel tank then change its attitude? Could this water in the fuel tank leave its hiding place after takeoff and make its way to the engine fuel pick-up? The NTSB has written off engine failures in General Aviation Aircraft well over six thousand four hundred eighteen times with the probable cause of UNDETERMINED. If the NTSB cannot get a handle on the simplicity of air, spark, compression and UNCONTAMINATED FUEL, maybe the NTSB should ask a good old country boy mechanic. Do not believe blindly in the FAA certification where the pre-flight procedure and checking the sump for water in the fuel tanks. How often have you witnessed any water in your sump cup? Could your answer be a clue?