New Envion Facility Turns Plastic Waste into $10/Barrel Fuel

by , 09/16/09

sustainable design, green design, plastic fuel, energy, renewable, recycled materials, power, envion, oil

What if we could turn all the plastic waste we create on a daily basis into fuel to power our cars? A Washington, DC-based company called Envion claims it can do just that with a process that turns plastic into an oil-like fuel for just $10 per barrel. According to Envion, the resulting fuel can be blended with other components and used as either gasoline or diesel.

sustainable design, green design, plastic fuel, energy, renewable, recycled materials, power, envion, waste, oil

Envion makes its plastic-to-oil conversion by heating up plastic to a pre-set temperature using infra-red energy. The process removes hydrocarbons without the use of a catalyst, resulting in a net gain of captured energy–82% of all material that goes in is transformed into fuel. In the past, attempts to turn plastic into fuel have resulted in a net loss of energy.

Each Envion machine can process up to 10,000 tons of plastic waste each year (including bottle caps) and produce three to five barrels of fuel per ton with a total electricity cost of 7 to 12 cents per gallon.

We’ll find out soon whether Envion’s process works as well as the company claims — the $5 million inaugural plastic-to-fuel plant opened today in Washington, DC, and an undisclosed company has already agreed to buy Envion’s product to blend into vehicle fuel.

+ Envion

Via Green Inc.

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  1. Mark Zhang February 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    very good idea, we can provide waste plastic pyrolysis plant that can produce the oil.

  2. ldavis September 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    This is Awesome! Recently I saw some pieces on shows like CNN and the journal with Joan Lunden on PBS that were talking about issues and solutions for industrial recycling. This kind of thing takes it to the next level. Of course it’s not as good as eliminating oil altogether but it will help get rid of some of the waste for now. I hope they do well.

  3. Ladyapalot November 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Save three birds with one stone, clean up the landfills, reduce our carbon footprint, and pull the rug out from under OPEC. A dream come true? …sigh

  4. kbrand October 6, 2009 at 3:06 pm


    Why would you sell the barrel of oil $5.80 when the current cost is around $60?

    Change your calculations to a more realistic $30 per barrel and the ROI is around 4 years.

    Additionally; the article seems to suggest that all of the barrel would go to motor vehicle fuel instead of the 19 or so gallons that are traditionally netted from a normal barrel of crude. This would drop fuel prices even more.

    42 gal / bbl at $30 per bbl = $0.71 per gallon.
    19gal / bbl at $60 per bbl = $3.16 per gallon

    This would also make more crude available for other petroleum based products and should lower their costs.

  5. ssp September 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    10,000 tons * 4 bbl/ton = 40,000 bbl / yr
    40,000 bbl * $10 / bbl = $400,000 / yr

    Say $0.10 / gal average to produce and 42 gal / bbl), each barrel costs $4.20 to produce.

    40,000 bbl * $5.80 = $232,000 / year


    $5,000,000 / $232,000 ~ 21 Years!

    Seems a bit long to me for this to work out, but maybe my math is wrong.

  6. keildar2005 September 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    DCV, I hate idealogs like you. You want to a) force people into doing the right thing, thus abridge freedom. You need to persuade people. b) close down an american made company that cost jobs because it is not your vision. c) refuse to see that a prosperous america can afford to move away from oil.
    for example the average buyer of the Toyota hybrids make 113000 a year and a better indicator of wealth than a doctorate. for example see the vision of cheaper fuel would cost us say 200 billion a year instead of 700 billion a year. The money stays in the US instead of going to the middle east. Also the feds with out lifting a finger will get extra billions go spend. We can afford with this extra money to buy a Toyota or make a solar panel and put it on the roof. We could have been off of Oil earlier if the government hadn’t ban drilling in Alaska and drilling off the coast. And At least we could have afforded the higher prices of natural gas. A cleaner alternative. But no your not a progressive you don’t want to progress. you are a purist. You are a progressive after the progressives at the turn of the century. you are an anti capitalist.

  7. Davhan September 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Do the math. 10,000 Tons per yr. = 4 tons / hr. This thing is a tinker toy!

  8. Chris Coles September 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

    This is very good news and looks like they have followed the path taken for centuries by anyone manufacturing charcoal. In that process, all they do is fill a sealed container and gently heat the contents to drive off everything other than the carbon as charcoal. So we should expect that they are doing exactly the same thing, but in a way that gathers the “smoke” to process it into new fuel. So they are in fact taking the plastic and returning the majority of the petroleum used to manufacture it back to a form of petroleum that may be used as new fuel. That is a wonderful way to use the waste plastic and every effort should be used to encourage the use of this system.

  9. Stefan Mux September 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

    @DCV: But on the other side it could be financial feasable to harvest the great pacific garbage patch:

  10. Mage66 September 17, 2009 at 6:36 am

    There is that huge deposit of plastic bits in the mid Pacific that could be removed and used for this process. I don’t see a downside to this.

  11. DCV September 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    This sounds very bad for the environment — there will be no need for alternative fuels or even energy efficient cars for years to come if they can start mining the landfills for cheap fuel. Burning oil is burning oil, no matter what the oil was before.

    Of course, there’s no mention of EROI, so maybe it won’t take off.

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