A Crazy Aussie Wants to Fly From Sydney to London in a Plastic-Powered Plane

15
Save
Illustration for article titled A Crazy Aussie Wants to Fly From Sydney to London in a Plastic-Powered Plane

Come summer, one of the best targets for some good old-fashioned British whinging is always air travel - the discomfort, the long queues, the freakishly cheery staff. But I promise you, no matter how much you might want to gripe, your journey won't suck nearly as bad as this guy, who's trying to fly from Australia to Britain, in a Cessna, using the contents of a landfill as fuel. Right.

Advertisement

The plan is for Jeremy Rowsell to fly from Sydney to London, via Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. His 10,500 mile epic will be completed in a teensy little Cessna, and the power will come from plastic. Specifically, it'll come from diesel fuel, which can be refined from so-called End-of-Life plastics - the plastic that would otherwise just end up in landfills.

If you're interested, the dark magic of turning old binbags into tasty diesel is acheived by carefully heating plastic in the absence of oxygen (called pyrolysis.) This yields a product that's basically the same as refined petroleum. From there, it's just a matter of using fractional distillation (just the same as in the oil industry) to get whatever hydrocarbon products you want, including diesel. As an added bonus, fuels produced by the process are slightly cleaner and better than you get from old-fashioned out-of-the-ground oil.

The idea of the six-day trip is to raise awareness of the plastic-into-useful-stuff technology (whilst presumably reminding Mr Rowsell of the benefits of jumbo jets). Mind you, it's not exactly going to be an eco-friendly trip: plastic from all of his stopover points along the trip is being shipped to Dublin, where it's being converted and then shipped back.

Real question is, who's volunteering to fly the plane back? [Telegraph]

Image from Shutterstock


Illustration for article titled A Crazy Aussie Wants to Fly From Sydney to London in a Plastic-Powered Plane

Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.

DISCUSSION

There's nothing unusual about diesel planes; they're becoming common. It's cool that they're making fuel out of plastic, but as far as the airplane is concerned the source of the fuel is irrelevant.

Cynar, the company that makes the conversion equipment, says the process produces fuel for less than half the pump price of conventional diesel.

Per ton of plastic:

• Diesel 185 Gallons

• Gasoline 53 Gallons

• Kerosene 26.5 Gallons

• Synthetic Gas 16 Gallons

• Residual Char 5%

Pretty cool given the raw material is abundant and cheap.