Stop Plastic “Pollution”! – DIY Diesel Refinery

Want to save the world from “Plastic Pollution”? Easy peasy, turn it into Diesel Fuel.

Simple DIY “refinery” to pyrolyticly (i.e. by heat) break down common plastic trash into Diesel fuel. The “waste gas” produced in the process powers the burner after it is started.

The build isn’t for those unskilled in welding and such, but not that complicated either. Given that the nightly news propaganda berates us regularly about plastic and shows all the mountains of it in China (shipped there from here) and claims China is now “refusing to take our trash”, clearly it is the best thing we all can do to “Save The Planet”. So all of you get out there and start up your own DIY Backyard Plastic to Diesel refinery! Do it for the children.

Yes, in that last video he does say it isn’t working quite as desired as it lacks insulation so he isn’t getting it hot enough. FWIW, this isn’t the best video series on the topic, just IMHO the most entertaining.

Do a DuckDuckGo search on DIY Diesel from Plastic or similar terms and there are lots of other pages and videos to choose from. I just happen to like this guys “Style” (and the accent doesn’t hurt either ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Energy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Stop Plastic “Pollution”! – DIY Diesel Refinery

  1. hillrj says:

    in Europe there is now a movement against diesel. The threat of PM2.5 in diesel exhaust means that diesel cars are going to be banned.

  2. H.R. says:

    I’m thinking of going diesel, so this was a timely post, E.M.

    I have that V-10 F250 and a 2013 Honda Fit Sport that I am considering getting rid of (both!) and getting a 2012 – 2014 diesel F250 or F350. Why pay insurance for two vehicles? I’d have a small payment on the ‘new’ vehicle, but I also have a small payment on the F250, so it would be a wash.

    I don’t think I’ll get to visit p.g. until I have a diesel to get me and the trailer through the mountains, and Mrs. H.R. has only been out to the Left Coast once when I took her to my old So. Cal. stompin’ grounds.. She would very much like to make a trip out there. Me? Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. But I would like to cruise the Pacific NW coast for a bit longer than I did in my misspent ‘yoot’. And I would really, really, really like to take a gander at p.g.’s workshop and garden. p.g. has already said, “Come on down!” but it’s up to me to make that happen.

    I’d really like to drop in on Larry L (Hotrod!) on the way out the Pacific Northwest. He knows hotrods, classic cars, and manufacturing (and just about everything else) so it would be a nice visit if we could do a meet and greet.

    Anyhow, if I get motorvated to consolidate my two vehicles into one, I will be headed out West about the time you and Mrs. E.M. move ‘back East’ to Florida. And if I do complete the vehicle consolidation, it will be a diesel.
    And… now I have a way to get rid of all the plastic junk around the house without making a trip to Goodwill. Win-Win.

  3. Kneel says:

    HR – I don’t know how such things stand in the US, however here down under, it is very worthwhile to use a gasoline engine converted to run on LPG (yes, BBQ gas – which is at least 60% propane, the rest is butane. You may have more luck in the US with straight propane, but the mix is not an issue).
    I recently got rid of a 200HP 3.5L V6 and replaced it with a 300HP 5.7 V8 on LPG. Although it uses about 50% more LPG than the V6 uses in gasoline, the LPG is half the price, so a 25% saving in fuel costs. For the Chevy Gen3 V8, you need an injection system, not a carby one or it may backfire and destroy your (plastic) intake manifold. There’s a hardly noticable drop in power – maybe 5%. And that Gen3 V8 will do 200,000 miles, no problem, even on LPG. Since in these parts taxi’s and other high mileage users all use LPG, there are plenty of places to get it. If such is not the case where you are, you can always get an adapter to allow you to fill the car from a BBQ bottle, or you can leave it dual-fuel and just flick to gasoline when you have to (the injection based LPG systems almost all start on gasoline anyway).

  4. Terry Jay says:

    @H.R, Consider a 350, about the same price, and a higher load capacity, and about the same ride. You just can not have too much truck

  5. H.R. says:

    @Terry Jay – Yup. I’m looking really, really hard at F350s.

    @Kneel – My 2005 F250 has the V-10 gas engine instead of a diesel. When towing, I get 8-10 miles per gallon on regular gasoline. I don’t think I could carry enough propane to get me from one fuel stop to the next ;o)

  6. Another Ian says:


    Might be better and cheaper to experiment with an earlier (NON ELECTRONIC) injected diesel until you have done quality control on your brew.

    Seems to be a connection here between home brewed diesel and injection shops.

  7. Another Ian says:

    ” I don’t think I could carry enough propane to get me from one fuel stop to the next ;o)”

    Don’t be faint hearted. I once saw an F truck with delusions – 400 cid propane and a 140 gallon tank.

  8. A C Osborn says:

    This should not be done on an Ad Hoc basis, this should be a National effort, it is tantamount to “free” energy.

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    FWIW there’s been a change in the Diesel Fuel market over the years. In prior years it cost about the same as Regular. Now it is priced as Premium or above. Especially at Truck Stops. Used to be that I’d head cross country and just hit the truck stops. Now I use Gas Buddy to find the cheap station away from the freeway. Why? Large companies negotiate a ‘Discount from pump price” and you, the rube in a single truck don’t matter; so the Truck Stop jacks the price up 30 ¢ / gallon and gives the company a 25 ¢ discount. You get stuck with a price bump.

    The only really good thing is that there is still a seasonal variation with Diesel lower in summer and higher in winter (Heating Oil is basically less cleaned up #2 Diesel). So for summer driving it’s nice.

    So I suggest using GasBuddy and checking out the price ranges around your regular haunts:
    Then decide. (Or just decide you want the torque so screw it.)


    I’ve tried to explain the intraconvertability of carbon compounds to Greens. They glaze over. Folks who run oil refineries get it. Chemists get it. Greens and Politicians not so much.

    But yes, we ought to be turning our carbon trash into motor fuels. Once glass and metals are out of the trash stream, the rest is pretty much “fuel”.

    @Kneel & Propane Topic:

    In the USA in the ’70s Propane Conversion was very popular. Now with various “Thou Shalt Not Modify Intake Nor Exhaust” smog laws, not so much. I had one car fail smog visual inspection as the “wrong” part number catalytic converter was installed. It was a much better one that reduced smog more, but didn’t match the CARB OEM part number.

    Propane is a byproduct of oil production (especially light oil) and that has fallen off as we have moved to more heavy crudes and tar sands. Price / gallon is often MORE than gasoline, depending on where you get it. Sometimes it is about the same as gasoline at major gas station stops, but for example, locally it is about $1 / gallon more than regular unleaded if filling a small tank. Finding fill-up spots at a low price takes some work.

    FWIW, my Texas Uncle had a Chevy PU with a HUGE propane tank in the back Something like 100 gallons?. With the regular gas tank and the saddle tanks for gas, he could fill up in Texas, drive to California to visit, then fill up again when he got back to Texas! Propane prices in California were “crazy high” to him, so he only bought fuel in Texas ;-)

    So over the last few decades propane powered cars and trucks have slowly disappeared. That results in fewer filling stations with it, so an even more thin market, lack of competition, and higher prices, and then even fewer folks using it. Circle the drain…

    THE big new item is CNG. There are increasing numbers of Truck Stops with CNG facilities. We have more natural gas than we can consume and it is cheap. Were I doing it now, I’d likely get a dual fuel gasoline / CNG truck; BUT it depends on the route you travel and local fuel costs. If not doing major trucking routes on the interstates or going near airports (CNG used for a lot of buses and cabs) finding a fueling station can be a challenge.

    I’ve never had a problem finding gasoline or Diesel at 2 am crossing the USA. Price varies, but not availability. I’ve gone very long times without seeing a propane or CNG station, and often they are closed at night or are on card lock. Gasbuddy is enlightening.

    FWIW, you can also make DIY gasoline. Oil Refinery techniques are not a technical challenge, just a fabrication and operations challenge. With the big push to ban all things petroleum, we may end up there. I’m not buying any more new cars, so IF we ever get so much stupid that they start converting gas stations to charge-point-only, I’ll just start DYI on the fuel thing. (Butanol is a “drop in replacement” for gasoline, FWIW. Just if you needed to order and “industrial chemical” …) But I think the USA will not “go there”. Then, my old indirect injection Diesel with a pre-combustion chamber, is omnivorous. It loves Jet-A, Kerosene, lamp oil, etc. etc. I’ve even run it on a mix of cooking oil with about 10% gasoline to thin the mix (though cold starting is harder…). So I’ll be keeping it as long as I can drive then my grandson can inherit it ;-) And yes, I’ve occasionally bought a couple of gallons of cooking oil or lamp oil when I was middle of nowhere and realized I’d not checked the fuel gauge…

    One trip to Tahoe, I arrived with a 1/4 tank of Warm Valley #2. It was 10 F and wanted #1 winterized. I’d forgotten to do my usual “arrive at mountains fill up with local #1″… After about 10 minutes of “Glow plugs, crank, glow plugs, crank, glow plugs, sputter halt. Glow plugs sputter…”eventually it got warm enough to start. I immediately drove to the hardware store, bought 2 gallons of “lamp oil” kerosene and dumped it in. Then we went skiing. Later that evening it started fine and I filled up with #1 on the way back to the hotel…

    The point is just that in a “fuel emergency” with a Diesel, every jet airport, grocery store and hardware store becomes a fuel station. All that changes is the price… (Running vegetable oil straight long term will tend to make gum deposits unless you convert it to bio-diesel and remove the glycerine component; but for emergency use for a few hundred or even thousand miles, it’s OK. Does gel easy at low temps too so in winter a fuel heating system is needed for consistent use.)

    So IF it is important to you to have a vehicle with wide fuel capability (and can use Military Fuels…) then you want a Diesel. Especially NOT one of the new computerized ones that shuts down if the fuel isn’t exactly Politically Correct #2. Find an old one and do the maintenance to keep it alive.

    Were I buying a new big truck, I’d find an older Cummins Diesel Dodge and fix it up. But that’s just me. I don’t care as much about an extra 2 MPG now as I do about the ability to dump in Jet-A or Military “One Fuel” or kerosene with a quart of lube oil and just keep moving… or even dump in 5 gallons of Soybean…

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    HR hope you get a chance to sit down here in Colorado and chat when you come through – thanks for the kind words. My work schedule is sometimes a bit of a challenge but with advance notice we can sort something out.

  11. H.R. says:

    Larry – I’m not taking on the Rockies until I get more uphill power. We do OK through the Appalachians but one route has the truck screaming close to 5,000 rpms for about 20 minutes in one place and I’m losing speed the whole time. There are 2-3 other stretches that are almost as bad. I just don’t trust the beast to handle the Rockies followed up by the Sierra Nevada range.

    As for your schedule, hey! I’m retired. So long as there’s a Waffle House open there’s no problem any time you are off to suck down caffeine and chat.

    Oh, second motivation to head through Colorado to go out West is that I have an aunt and cousins in Glenwood Springs and she’s running out of years where I’ll be able to visit. She lives in a house there that can be located on a classroom size map of the US. Very interesting and beautiful location.

    Anyhow, I figure one more trip to Florida with the current truck and I’ll switch to a diesel in 2020. I had a new roof put on (38 squares and 12/12 pitch, ouch) and the furnace and air conditioner replaced this year so I’m a little short of mad money to get the truck I’d want. Hear that screaming sound? That was my wallet ;o)

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    We do OK through the Appalachians but one route has the truck screaming close to 5,000 rpms for about 20 minutes in one place and I’m losing speed the whole time.

    I understand that, my Chevy Astro van does the same thing in a couple places fully loaded pulling hills in western Wyoming and into Utah.

    I am not likely to go anywhere so any time you find out you will be with in 100 miles of Denver give me a shout.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    Darn it…. Can’t even keep thread and topic discipline myself! ;-)

    HR, I posted a response about the Rockies in a comment here:

    I was sure I was reading this thread at the time…. 8-}

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