On 20 September, a funny little machine christened Chrysalis was unveiled to the audience gathered in Nice on the occasion of the World Clean-up Day. Developed by Earthwake, a French association, the Chrysalis uses the process of pyrolysis to convert plastic waste into fuel.
“A concrete solution to make plastic waste valuable and thus encourage its collection and contribute to its elimination from our coastlines”
The process itself is not a new one, but Earthwake had a specific goal in mind when developing this project: finding a solution for emerging countries that do not have an organised plastic waste collection system and which are still too dependent on diesel-powered generators as a source of electricity. As the Chrysalis was designed using simple and robust materials, its low-tech technology makes it easy to maintain and repair on-site. And as it is shaped like a container, it is easy to transport. In a word, it is a machine at a human scale!
Designed to be sold to individuals and communities, the Chrysalis’s size and operating method mean that it can be placed anywhere. “It does not require electricity. The 10% of gases that it produces during the pyrolysis process create the heat that enables it to generate its own energy”.
A social, ecological and sustainable project
The Chrysalis is currently able to convert 160 kg of plastic waste into 120 litres of diesel per day. The machine feeds on plastic bags, bottle caps, basins, detergent and shampoo; in short, it can use any waste picked up and collected by individuals or associations, provided that it is made from polyethylene or polypropylene. The conversion process takes around 1.5 hours and the fuel is intended to supply generators, boats and tractors. And as the association’s administrator, François Danel, emphasizes: “by making plastic waste valuable, people will refrain from throwing it away and will sell it to micro-entrepreneurs who will make money by producing fuel”.
The Chrysalis is intended to go on sale in the first half of 2020 and should be able to process 300 kg of plastic waste per day by then. Demand is already high and the Earthwake association, headed by actor Samuel le Bihan, has already struck up several partnerships in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, among others.