One Man’s Trash Turned to Everyone’s Treasure

To Stephen Paul, a research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, if it is biodegradable, then it is a source of energy. Using refuse produced locally, Paul can turn such New York garbage as pizza boxes, paper plates, ice cream containers, leaves, sawdust and tissues into fuels for local use.

Biomass as a source of fuel has many advantages, not least of which is that using garbage for fuel reduces the need to dispose of it, reducing landfills and the methane that their deterioration creates, which in turn harms the atmosphere. Using a process called hydrolysis and not fermentation, which is used for the production of ethanol, Mr. Paul compares this process to placing stomach acids in a pressure cooker and getting out fuel that can power cars and other engines. Right now Mr. Paul’s intention is to open a plant in Trenton, New Jersey with the capacity to produce 4 ½ million gallons of renewable diesel fuel each year.