Saturday, February 23, 2008

Plug It In Your Can

Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez has been running a "green" ad on TV and radio. It goes something like, "If you recycle just one aluminum can you can power your TV set for 3 hours." Huh? I tried plugging the TV into an old Coors can but only got the plug smelling like fermented feet.

Then I did a little research and came up with the following: 1 US gallon of gas contains 115,000 btu
1 watt = 3.413 btu/hr
1000 watt hrs is 3413 btu

My TV is rated at 160 watts so in three hours it uses 160 x 3.413 btu x 3 so that is 1638 btus.

My recycle center is 10 miles away and I get 20 miles per gallon - so I burn about 115,000 btus to get there and back.

I can carry about 1000 cans, so each can requires 115 btus to get to the recycle. I am now negative 115 btus per can.

From another research source: It takes roughly 6200 watt/hrs to produce 1 lb of aluminum from ore. That is 21,160 btu per pound. Recycling saves 95% of this energy, so we get a pound of aluminum by saving 20,102 btu. The question is, does the 95% include the energy it takes for transportation. Those who juggle statistics don't tell us. Anywhere. If you can find the statistic with an explanation, point me to it.

There are 32 cans per pound of aluminum, but with waste only 80% of them make it to the final product, so we need 20% more or about 38.4 cans which cost me 38.4 x 115 to get to recycle or 4,416 so I have saved the planet only 20,102 - 4,416 but per pound of aluminum or 15,686 btu.
I have recycled 38.4 cans to get this, so I get 15,686/38.4 or only 408.5 btu which only powers my set for about 15 minutes.

Hey, wait! I didn't figure for the bulldozer that pushes the cans around the recycle center, the cost to operate the shredder or the truck that has to carry it to the aluminum plant. From where I live, that's about 1300 miles. Even if that only uses ten percent of what my inefficent Buick uses to get to the recycle center, that starts me 126.5 btu to the negative. The cost to get to the aluminum plant is now 38.4 x 126.5 or 4,856 btu. Now I only get 20,102 - 4,856 or 15,246btu divided by 38.4 cans is 397. Divided by 1638 that is under a quarter hour.

Marty - get your facts right. Much gasoline has a higher heat content. And depending on how far you have to move the cans, how much waste, and where you are located, it is entirely possible that the savings could go negative.

Have a happy recycling!

No comments:

Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.