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Producing oil from plastic waste 'commercially viable'

Recycling technologies

Creating hydrocarbon fuel from mixed plastic waste is said to be a viable operation after a commercial-scale pilot.

Recycling Technologies, based in Swindon, builds and operates machines RT7000 machines that convert mixed plastic waste (MPW) into a recycled hydrocarbon product Plaxx. Unlike separated plastics such as PET and HDPE, most MPW is currently not recycled.

The process has been demonstrated at laboratory levels for some time, but this is the first time it has been shown to be proven at near-commercial scale.

The pilot plant is soon to be relocated from the company’s manufacturing facility to a Swindon Borough Council site.

Adrian Griffiths, Recycling Technologies chief executive, said he was “thrilled”  the commercial demonstrator had proved to be operational and viable.

“We are really appreciative of the support shown by the council. We can’t wait to get on Swindon’s recycling site and show the world what can be achieved when universities and specialists collaborate, as has happened in this project, to solve a major global problem.”

Plaxx can be used for several purposes including heavy fuel oil for energy generation, low-sulphur heavy fuel oil (HFO) for marine propulsion, as a ’slack wax’ or, ultimately, as feedstock for polymer production.

The company is also working with Ricardo Energy & Environment to develop it use as a substitute for fossil-based HFO and diesel.

They will assess the relative performance of Plaxx, HFO and diesel when used in an engine of the type and scale typical of power generation or marine propulsion applications.

Griffiths said he hoped to qualify the materiel to meet global marine pollution requirement through the pilot.

Earlier this year, investment company EcoMachines Ventures sold its shares in Recycling Technologies to a private investor. The original investment came in May 2014, with EcoMachines providing seed capital for the recycler’s technology.

Research and development has come from various Government funding organisations, including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and the Energy Catalyst grant with the University of West England, backed by Innovate UK. There has been additional support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

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