How A Ship Helped in Making Fuel from Plastic Trash

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The Ocean Voyages Institute deployed the 140-foot cargo ship KWAI to collect plastic debris floating in the ocean (fishing nets and consumer plastic goods) in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii. Eight tons of this waste plastic will be recycled by Resynergi, Inc of Rohnert Park. (Jackson McMuldren photo)

In a major development, Sonoma County-based Resynergi, Inc. is turning tons of floating plastic debris salvaged from the ocean into fuel as part of a program launched by Ocean Voyages Institute of Sausalito in collaboration with ByFusion Global Inc. of Los Angeles, reports North Bay Business Journal.

Recycling Plastic Into Fuel

Brian Bauer, CEO of Reysnergi, Inc., holds handfuls of chips shredded from ocean waste plastic debris ready for reprocessing into diesel fuel or to be used to produce new plastic products. (courtesy photo)

Founded in 2015, Resynergy located in Rohnert Park’s SOMO Village has been working for half a decade to perfect its second-generation system as a practical and portable way to recycle plastic waste into oil and fuels using a proprietary process that reapplies technology originally designed for the telecommunications industry using high energy microwaves.

This year Resynergi entered into an informal agreement with Ocean Voyage, a nonprofit founded in 1979 with a goal to capture and recycle floating ocean trash. In 2020, OVI’s mid-ocean cleanup missions removed over 340,000 pounds (170 tons) of plastic (ghostnets and consumer plastic goods), breaking the record it set during the largest cleanup accomplished in this area in 2019.

A variety of abandoned floating waste materials are biohazards for sea life that become entangled in what are known as “ghost nets.” This waste can also be a threat to navigation. Organizers say this current effort is just the start of a campaign designed to divert 150 tons of plastic polluting oceans around the globe.

On June 23, the 140-foot cargo ship Kwai departed from Hilo, Hawaii, on May 4 and returned to Honolulu on June 29. The Kwai sailed to what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located half-way between California and Hawaii. This patch is the largest of five offshore plastic accumulation zones that spans an areas twice the size of Texas.

When floating debris is sighted, the ship stops and deploys divers to place large hooks into the mass of twisted plastic nets which is then hoisted on board using a large crane and placed into the ship’s hold.

“It’s an honor to be part of efforts to have all of these toxic materials removed from our ocean,” said Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of Ocean Voyages Institute.

“They will be recycled and repurposed with nothing ending up in a landfill. None of these waste material will ever go back into the sea. The ocean is a source of health for our planet and all human beings on it, and we have to take care of it and provide a healthy habitat for ocean creatures.”

Turning Plastic into Oil

Brian Bauer, co-founder and CEO of Resynergi, Inc., based in Rohnert Park, stands next to the company's innovative plastic recycling system that can convert a ton of plastic waste per day into reusable oils, fuels and other products. (Courtesy Photo)

Through a reaction known as “pyrolysis,” the plastic is quickly heated using microwave energy and converted to gas. Gases are then condensed into liquid hydrocarbons such as usable oil, fuels and other products that can be reused to make new pure plastics. This process converts a ton of plastic waste into 200 gallons of fuel.

“Our system produces very low greenhouse gasses or other emissions compared to conventional methods,” said Brian Bauer, CEO and co-founder of Resynergi.

“This all-electric system is powered using 480 volts, does not include burning or incineration, and produces no smoke or other volatile organic compounds.

ByFusion’s ByBlocks

Tons of fishing nets and other plastic waste material collected in the Pacific Ocean await recycling at Resinergi, Inc.'s facility in Santa Rosa co-founded by CEO Brian Bauer. (courtesy photo)

In addition to Resynergi’s commitment to recycle 8 tons of plastic debris into usable fuel, ByFusion Global Inc. is repurposing 30 tons into construction-grade building materials.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this important OVI initiative to clean up the ocean,” said Heidi Kujawa, CEO of ByFusion Global Inc. “Our zero-waste process creates valuable, advanced building materials from all types of post-consumer plastic waste turning it into ByBlocks as a solution for the global plastic crisis.”

Kujawa said the company’s products, called ByBlocks , will be available for purchase later this year to “demonstrate to the world what a truly circular economy can be.”

Established in 2015, ByFusion manufactures two recycling systems that produce these unique plastic building blocks that can be used to construct walls or buildings. One is designed for community use that converts 30 tons of plastic debris per month. A larger unit tailored for industrial use can process 90 tons of plastic per month.

Ready for Market?

The Resynergi unit is compact and portable. It can fit into a standard 30- to 40-foot shipping container. In addition, each system can be connected to other Resynergi systems to increase processing throughput and can be operated by a single person at a single control panel. Resynergi is also completing the design of a large capacity system capable of processing up to five-tons of waste plastic per day.

The fuels produced could even be used to power the vehicles collecting the trash, to generate electricity or can be converted back into new usable plastics.

“We are also proud to be part of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a nonprofit formed in January 2019 to develop, accelerate and deploy solutions that will unlock even more investment to help reduce millions of tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year,” said Bauer.

He said Resynergi will announce its first product release soon and is taking orders for its systems.

“We are working with a number of companies to enhance and support their sustainability programs and recycling efforts. In addition, there is definite interest from the U.S. Department of Energy about what we are doing. We are continuing to seek development grants to take us through our first production release.”

Bauer said a ribbon cutting event is being planned in the near future at the company’s manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa, which had a soft opening on Aug. 1. The company said investors have already committed $3 million to Resynergi and the firm is preparing for a series B tranche.

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Source: North Bay Business Journal

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