Powered by Plastics: Plastics Into Fuel by Prof. Skip Rochefort, Oregon State University



Powered by Plastics: Plastics Into Fuel

Prof. Skip Rochefort

Chemical, Biological, & Environmental Engineering (CBEE), Polymer and Catalysis labs

Oregon State University

Wednesday, April 21,   Webinar at 7:30 PM Pacific time


Pyrolysis of plastics to return them to their small molecule building blocks of various fuels, commonly called Plastics to Fuel (PTF), is not a new concept. It has been known to our research group since 1993 and was known to others well-before then. The American Plastics Council produced a video in 1993 that compared Conventional Recycling (recovery and reuse) to what they called Advanced Recycling techniques. We first learned of PTF technologies being carried out by Conrad Industries (Chehalis, WA) in 1993. But it was a technology ahead of its time. Agylix (Tigard, OR) is an Oregon company founded by Kevin DeWhitt that came on the scene in the mid-2000’s to build large scale pyrolysis facilities. In early 2018 China, at the time the major customer for US recycled plastics, implemented the so called “Green Wall” which effectively closed the market for these recycled plastics, and soon after many other countries also imposed similar sanctions.

The US and many other countries have now become “constipated with plastics” and something needs to be done quickly. Ocean plastics pollution has garnered public attention. Quite a few companies worldwide have started to revisit pyrolysis and PTF technologies. The OSU approach is different from these commercial ventures. The goal of the OSU research is to produce small scale, simple pyrolysis reactors with optimized operating conditions to produce diesel fuel for community recycling. The goal is simple – local plastics processing using pyrolysis to produce fuel (diesel) used locally. The target audiences are underserved communities, island communities with ocean plastic wastes, and any community that has a plastic waste issue. The reactor design and operating conditions will be open-sourced, and consulting on construction and operation will be supplied by OSU, at least into the near future. The current state of this project and the future plans will be discussed


Speaker Background:

Dr. Skip Rochefort

Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering in the School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering at Oregon Statue University ( and Executive Director (ex officio) of OSU Precollege Programs  (

Prof. Rochefort has degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts (BS), Northwestern University (MS), and UC San Diego (PhD). He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Ecole the Physique et Chimie (ESPCI) in Paris, France in 1986-87 where he worked in the laboratory of Pierre-Gilles deGennes (1991 Nobel Prize in Physics). From 1988–1990 he was a Research Assistant at UC Santa Barbara where he worked in the laboratory of Dale Pearson and Alan Heeger (1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry).

Prior to academia, he had several industrial research positions (Dow Chemical, Kodak, AT&T Bell Labs), and since 1993 he has been on the faculty at Oregon State University. He has been a University Honors College Faculty member since 1995 and a UHC Eminent Professor since 2012. He has been recognized for his teaching and advising activities by ASEE, AIChE, the College of Engineering, and Oregon State University, and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

His research interest for the last 40 years has been in many areas of polymer science, polymer physics, rheology, and polymer processing. He established the CBEE Polymer Research Laboratory with extensive capabilities for molecular, thermal, rheological, and surface characterization of polymers.

In addition to his own research and teaching, Prof. Rochefort’s passion is K-12 outreach for the recruitment and retention of women and minorities into engineering, with the current focus on introducing engineering and science to Oregon youth at the middle school and high school levels. He has personally mentored over 250 high school and undergraduate students, and he founded the Summer Experience in Science and Engineering for Youth ( a one-week research experience on the OSU campus which has served over 1000 high school girls and ethnic minorities, and engaged over 350 OSU engineering undergrads as mentors and counselors.

EVENT DATE: Wednesday, April 21

Registration deadline: Monday, April 19, 1:00 PM.

Registration may close earlier than the nominal deadline if capacity is reached.

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Webinar Timing: Webinar Time 7:30 PM.

(Zoom meeting room will open earlier)

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