Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday Optimism Blogging

There's all sorts of good, interesting news from Australia. First up, Treehugger reports on Ozmotech, an Australian company that's taken a remarkable approach to dealing with plastic wastes:

Apparently 20% of the waste in our modern landills is non-degradable plastic. The Ozmotech solution is to convert this into diesel fuel. Their patented process uses liquefaction, pyrolysis and catalytic breakdown to render 1kg of waste plastic into 950ml of oil or Green Fuel. This contains the same energy content as conventional diesels, but with "significantly reduced emissions levels". Existing diesel engines are said to run fully effectively on these fuels with no engine modification. It works best with PP, PE and PS plastics.
Meanwhile, Australian scientists have discovered that removing nitrogen and oxygen bubbles from water - by means of a hydrophobic, gas-permeable membrane - greatly increases plain water's ability to break up oil and dirt:
This could reduce our use of detergents, which create environmental problems when they are washed into the water system: detergents can fertilize algal growth so much that animals in swamps and lakes are harmed.

Pashley and his team tested normal distilled water and degassed water by filling oily test tubes with water and shaking them for several seconds.

The tubes of degassed water became much more turbid, the team reports...this shows that the oil was dispersed throughout the water as tiny droplets, and suggests that degassed water could lift oily stains off clothing.
And just to round things out, a solar car designed by the Aurora Vehicle Association of Melbourne has just broken another record, by traveling 1255 kilometers in 24 hours (which does indeed mean that it was running at night!). Again, thanks to Treehugger for that link.

These stories offer a microcosmic view of the design revolution that's happening in countries all over the world. (And not just first-world countries, either; the trend towards leapfrogging can allow poorer countries to make environmentally sound technological gains, often by virtue of the fact that they're not hampered by reliance on an outdated, transitional industrial infrastructure.)


Anonymous said...

Great post. Yes the rest of the world is making plans on how to deal with the coming end of oil.

The US plan is to steal what's left through force which will ultimatley fail.

If this process of converting plastic into usable fuel is thermodynamically effient then I have EVEN more hope for our species.

Phila said...

It seems pretty efficient, from what I can tell...can't find the exact specs, but it looks as though it's costing as little as 30 cents per litre in some cases (whether that's Aus or US money I have no idea).

I'd also be curious to know if engines that run it need as particulate filter. Or to be precise, if they need it more than regular diesel or biodiesel...definitely something I'll be keeping an eye on...

Anonymous said...

It's great to get some good news. My father is of the optimistic generation, the generation that saw antibiotics come into use, saw the end of Polio, Small Pox etc. He has always maintained that there is an answer to every problem of we put our minds to work on the issue.

This used to seem too Panglossian for my taste. But as years have gone on and the ills of the world grow greater, his optimism has helped to balance my darkness and fear. And when his generation passes (he's 88 now) some younger folks will need to take up the work of healthy optimism. Thanks for your efforts in that regard.


four legs good said...

That is excellent news. god knows I need a reason to be optimistic.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go invent a washing machine that degasses the water so I can become a mulit billionaire.