Solution to Our Oil Addiction?
What is old becomes new again with a high-power microwave
Inventor Frank Pringle might have begun the end of an era of wasted energy with the introduction of his new “Hawk” microwave.
Do not let the name fool you; it is not any ordinary microwave. According to Popular Science magazine, this microwave is capable of extracting the hidden oil and natural gas bound together inside of almost everything around you, including such items as tires, plastic cups and even rocks.
The secret is that all of these items contain a base of hydrocarbon. This giant microwave can break down the old strings of hydrocarbon that the item was originally composed of into component parts. One tire, when broken down to a size that the microwave can handle, can be broken in to four different parts: diesel fuel, carbon black, combustible gas and high-strength steel, said an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The process is fairly straightforward. The item is placed into the microwave in manageable pieces and the microwave is turned on. Once separated, the diesel fuel goes into a glass container and the natural gas goes to a tank. The only thing left in the microwave unit itself is the carbon black. Video of the microwave in action is available online.
This new process is a huge advancement in the world of recycling. Many experts have been unsure as to what to do with these materials once they are no longer usable. Stockpiles of old used tires are often stored in large tire dumps – wasted energy. This new microwave provides a solution. As many of these materials were once thought of as useless, they are now able to be renewed and reused.
The development of the microwave took Pringle 10 years, much of that time spent perfecting the correct microwave frequencies to extract resources from a variety of materials. Because of this, many materials can be extracted, all at different wave frequencies – hundreds of materials. His exhaustive efforts have not gone unnoticed. With this large number of workable materials, his invention can appeal to an extremely large market.
The most obvious market is that of the scrap metal industry. According to NewScientist.com in reference to a particular auto recycling company, “for every ton of steel that the company recovers, between 226 kg and 318 kg of (trash) is produced.” With the new microwave, the auto recyclers are no longer stuck harvesting only scrap metal; they can now make use of almost all parts of the vehicle. This greatly reduces the amount of materials that must be deposited in landfills. Not surprisingly, the first of Pringle’s microwaves was sold to an auto recycler in New York. The price was $5.1 million.
Another possible customer is the US military. The war in Iraq has produced massive amounts of plastics from water bottles and food containers that could easily be converted back to essential fuels needed by the military. An investment such as this would definitely be valuable in reducing unnecessary waste as well as creating more energy sources in a limited environment.
Oil companies may also provide an unexpected market for the Hawk. The microwave creates competition for them, but might also prove to be extremely useful in extracting petroleum trapped in shale. While an investment in the Hawk might be financing their potential opposition, the benefits far outweigh the possible negative effects.
The Hawk is also able to make recycling of other materials much more simple, said NewScientist.com. An excellent example is that of recycling copper wiring. When recycling this wiring, there is no need for its insulation. The insulation, however, can be recycled with the use of the microwave. Not only does this allow the recycling process to be more inclusive, but it makes the copper itself much easier to obtain. The wiring with insulation can be put in the microwave and all that will remain inside of the unit is the copper and the resulting carbon black – metals cannot be extracted.
Inventions as useful as this new microwave are not created often. These kinds of tools could help make the world a cleaner place. They can also help us hold on to what few natural non-renewable resources we have. The ability to reuse will undoubtedly drive us to a more “green” future. Creative minds must continue to create and lead us there.
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John Gerbich is the Staff Writer for IdeaBuyer.com, a marketplace for new technology and products that allows inventors to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. Visit the site by clicking here > Patents for Sale.