Australian Scientist Develops Plastic Eating System
A scientist based in Adelaide, South Australia, is searching for investors to help build a commercial system that converts waste plastic into biogas.
David Thompson will file an application for patent protection for his Polymer Organic Energy Treatment (POET) System, which uses anaerobic digestion technology to turn a range of plastics into methane, as well as inert, organic by-products that can be used as garden fertiliser and mulch.
The POET System is capable of processing polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene. Thompson said research in recent months had shown promise with PET plastics, and his company has also successfully tested a system that can process plastics, food waste and cardboard simultaneously, which said would be perfectly suited to the fast food industry.
Thompson is looking for an investor to help it build a demonstration plant capable of processing, initially, 5000 tonnes of plastic a year. He said there had been significant global interest in his invention, but potential buyers wanted to see a working demonstration plant rather than test results before committing. If funding of about $2.5 million was secured, he said, a plant able to process 100 tonnes of plastic a week could be running within six months.
Australia is one of many nations under pressure to search for new ways of handling waste, since China’s “Operation Green Fence” policy came into effect in January. The policy bans the importation of 24 categories of contaminated solid waste including paper, plastics, textiles and some metals. Before the ban, China imported almost 30 million tonnes of waste paper and 7 million tonnes of “recyclable” plastic a year, including about 30% of Australia’s waste paper and plastic.
Thompson has been contacted by potential customers in the United Kingdom and Canada, and is in talks with interested investors from Singapore and Australia.