One of the best targets for some good old-fashioned British whining is always air travel — the discomfort, the long queues, the freakishly cheery staff. But no matter how much you might want to gripe, your journey won’t suck nearly as much as the one this guy wants to fly from Australia to the UK in a Cessna using the contents of a landfill as fuel. Right.
The plan is for Jeremy Rowsell to fly from Sydney to London, via Asia, the Middle East and Europe. His 17,000km epic journey will be completed in a teensy little Cessna, and the power will come from plastic. Specifically, it will 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 bin liners 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 (while 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.
The real question is who’s volunteering to fly the plane back? [Telegraph]
Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix. [clear]