Global Resource Corporation (GRC) found a way to convert all plastics scrap and especially tire rubber to… guess what… DIESEL oil!
The secret behind this invention is the generation of hundreds (to be more specific, 1200) of microwave spectrum frequencies, each of them acting on some hydrocarbons from the material to be “melted”. As the hydrocarbons are being treated with these frequencies, some of them convert to oil and some to gas (combustible gas).
GRC’s machine is called the Hawk-10. Its smaller incarnations look just like an industrial microwave with bits of machinery attached to it. Larger versions resemble a concrete mixer.
“Anything that has a hydrocarbon base will be affected by our process,” says Jerry Meddick, director of business development at GRC, based in New Jersey. “We release those hydrocarbon molecules from the material and it then becomes gas and oil.”
Whatever does not have a hydrocarbon base is left behind, minus any water it contained as this gets evaporated in the microwave.
“Take a piece of copper wiring,” says Meddick. “It is encased in plastic – a kind of hydrocarbon material. We release all the hydrocarbons, which strips the casing off the wire.” Not only does the process produce fuel in the form of oil and gas, it also makes it easier to extract the copper wire for recycling.
Similarly, running 9.1 kilograms of ground-up tyres through the Hawk-10 produces 4.54 litres of diesel oil, 1.42 cubic metres of combustible gas, 1 kg of steel and 3.40 kg of carbon black, Meddick says.
Gershow Recycling, a scrap metal company based in New York, US, has just said it will be the first to buy a Hawk-10. Gershow collects metal products, shreds them and turns them into usable pure metals. Most of its scrap comes from old cars, but for every ton of steel that the company recovers, between 226 kg and 318 kg of “autofluff” is produced.
Autofluff is the stuff that is left over after a car has been shredded and the steel extracted. It contains plastics, rubber, wood, paper, fabrics, glass, sand, dirt, and various bits of metal. GRC says its Hawk-10 can extract enough oil and gas from the left-over fluff to run the Hawk-10 itself and a number of other machines used by Gershow.
Because it makes extracting reusable metal more efficient and evaporates water from autofluff, the Hawk-10 should also reduce the amount of end material that needs to be deposited in landfill sites.