Do you know how to make fuel? What if you had no new supplies? This could happen in any type of SHTF situation, but for some people, this is daily life as they innovate ways to make necessities while trapped in the middle of a war zone.
Supply cutoffs limit the essential resources people need to operate as a community every single day, and when there’s a war zone on the doorstep there isn’t going to be a resupply anytime soon.
This is where skills such as how to make diesel come in handy, applying ingenuity, resourcefulness and a dash of innovation to keep a community functioning.
I came across this video below some time ago from Middle Eastern reporting agency Aljazeera, and I was quite impressed at how these citizens from Ghouta, a town in Syria that has been besieged since 2013, has managed to survive through resourcefulness.
While this post is about the process they undertake to make diesel fuel in a terrible situation, it does not detract from the struggle that people caught in the crossfire of a war zone have to go through.
Not only is there restrictions on people entering or leaving the area, but supply routes are also greatly limited which has caused endless issues from medical and surgical supplies and an inability to treat diseases, starvation, fuel shortages and no electricity. That’s just to name a few.
For these people, much like in other povertized areas or conflict-affected areas in the world, daily supplies have to be self-sufficient and replenishable without a reliance on external services. For the citizens who live in places like Eastern Ghouta,, survival is breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
As a result of the limitation to supplies, making their own diesel is a crucial method to supply the area’s transport and generators, and there’s no resupply coming soon, so making that diesel has to be a sustainable and long-lasting method.
Here’s how to make diesel in a town that has been under a ruthless war zone siege for five years. For all of you science enthusiasts out there, the process is called thermal depolymerization, and yes, it actually works.
How to make diesel with limited resources
How to make diesel … if you live under siege in Syria. pic.twitter.com/LqQ69nK5lq
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 18, 2017
1. Collect any plastic you can get your hands on
First, collect any plastic you can find. The first place to start is any rubbish sites from bins, to skips and later on, public tips. Anything plastic can be used such as plastic bottles, grocery bags, DVDs and food containers.
2. Burn the plastics
This doesn’t just mean light a fire and start burning anything you can get. In this specific process, you need to get the burning temperature to an ideal state between 300 – 400 degrees Celcius (570-800 Fahrenheit).
To get that sort of temperature you need to make an oven that can reach incredibly hot temperatures with an internal cooking pot.
3. Tap the vapor and let it settle as a fuel
You need to tap the vapors that arise out of superheating the plastics. Ideally, the vapors that rise out of the burning of the plastics are filtered into canisters through piping that can cool the vapor.
This is similar to how you would filter out a biogas, only these vapors would settle and condense into a canister it will become a liquid fuel form which should be light brown in color.
That light brown liquid tapped off from the condensing process is fuel.
How well does it work?
In this manner of generating fuel, it is more so a desperate measure of creating a fuel substance for older engines. As a last resort, and because the people of Ghouta have no other option, this type of fuel generation is a necessity.
However, in a different environment, there are some considerations to look at such as the fuel residue may clog up engines as it is not synthetically cleaned in a lab or through a filtration process and working around burning plastics can be extremely detrimental to your health as well as the environment. There may also be safety concerns in storing your own fuel as the whole process is working with extremely flammable goods and using an accessible fire to burn the plastics, so separation of the processes is quite important.
The biggest practical problem is that if you were to rely on this type of fuel for repeated use in any sort of vehicle engine or generator, it may clog up and limit the lifetime of the engine.
This same process is being done as a method of waste management in areas already as you can see in the video below. For these processes, to address the western world’s waste count, many garbage disposal areas are separating plastics to recycle or create fuels from in a matter to address sustainable concerns and increase the reusability of waste in largely populated areas.
While I don’t expect any of my readers to be living in a war zone, and certainly do not wish anything like that upon you, knowing how to provide for yourself, or your community is important. We can see why the need for this type of knowledge is important in this example right here.
Skills such as knowing how to make fuel, how to filter water, and how to provide food are important steps to self-preservation. We can learn a lot of these skills by seeing how others do the same in less fortunate areas of the world.