American Strikes Oil -- from a Plastic Soda Bottle?

I just learned about Frank Pringle. Get to know his name. He might be our savior when it comes to oil.

Let's get the elephant out of the room: for all of you wondering, he is not the inventor of Pringles. However, he can probably take a Pringles can and extract oil from it.

Pringle, 64, is the CEO of Global Resource Corp. (GRBC), in West Berlin, New Jersey, and he has developed a patent-pending emissions-free environmentally-friendly technology that uses microwaves to pull out fuel from shale rock, tires, plastic bottles, toxic sludge from river bottoms and other pieces of junk. Actually, I'm not sure if he can get oil from a Pringles can, but he has microwaved lawn cuttings into a substance that could be refined into alcohol fuel. It sounds like he can make oil out of about anything.

A public relations colleague of mine represents him. Late last year, he was covered in Time Magazine (which named his invention as one of the best of the year) and Popular Science, which also said he had one of the best inventions of the year. Why his technology hasn't caught on yet, assuming it works as well as it's been reported, is beyond me. But maybe our $4 per gallon of gas will make Pringle more in demand.
I can't explain it better than Popular Science, so I'll just borrow their words: "The machine is a microwave emitter that extracts the petroleum and gas hidden inside everyday objects -- or at least anything made with hydrocarbons, which, it turns out, is most of what's around you."

Pringle's machine can turn 10 tons of auto waste--tires, plastic, vinyl--into enough natural gas to produce 17 million BTUs of energy. BTUs are British Thermal Units. Beyond that, I know next to nothing about BTUs, but 17 million sounds like a lot of them.

Maybe that's why Pringle told Popular Science: "I've been told the oil companies might try to assassinate me."

Here's hoping that Pringle's technology takes off, and that regardless, he remains alive and well for years to come.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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