The Plastic Plan: Energy from Plastic Bottles
If we try to get rid of plastics altogether from our lives, we know that it is quite impractical. So what is the next best thing? We can recycle plastic in such a manner that it is economical and produces clean and green energy for our utilization. Industrial designer Chris Allen has come up with an imaginative answer to the problem of plastic litter. He named his project as ‘The Plastic Plan.’ This project needs millions of plastic bottles along with their caps. We can procure these plastic bottles from landfills and carbon-intensive recycling plants. The next step is to convert these plastic bottles into thousands of cubes that can float on the ocean surface. Now after having thousands of similar these cubes can be joined together to form an offshore structure. This structure’s size is akin to three football fields. These structures are stacked one on top of the other.
Now at least we have done one good deed i.e. removed those plastic bottles from the landfills. Now they are floating on the sea surface and they are ready to be utilized as energy producing and storage platform. The core idea is that now an elevated reservoir of recycled material is ready. Now we can use clean and green energy devices such as solar, solar electric pump, wind, wind turbine pump, or wave/current powered pumps and mount them on this base. The goal is to pump sea water 30 meters or more into the reservoir. Water is pumped into the reservoir by hundreds or thousands of clean energy pumps. Now the same water is released a large ‘dam’ sized hydroelectric turbines at the foot of the platform. This process uses the fluctuating energy produced by many small solar, wind, wave pumps and converts it into a much stronger more reliable clean energy. Electricity thus produced will be strong enough to be cabled to shore. From there this electricity can be transported to the existing power grid.
The plan helps in reducing the plastic waste and uses it to create a type of dam on the ocean. It also deals with the issues of a decline in water levels in dammed rivers. Chris Allen finds the Gulf of Mexico offshore of New Orleans as the perfect location for the first cluster of islands. Chris Allen believes if we will be able to harness properly and at a scale no one ever thought of, this project may provide answer to the escalating energy crisis and fuel the world with clean, zero-emission energy.