Recycling Technologies and Ricardo develop waste derived fuel

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Of the more than 25m tons of post-consumer waste plastic produced in the European Union each year, only 26% is recycled, with 36% going for incineration, while the remaining 38% contributes to the ever expanding problem of landfill.

In addition to the loss of its material value, the carbon cost of processing this mixed waste is considerable, not least due to transportation, as many regions and states export their mixed plastic waste due to a lack of localised processing facilities. To help address this global issue, Recycling Technologies has developed the RT7000 machine (above) and is industrialising a process to convert residual plastic waste into a low sulphur hydrocarbon compound known as Plaxx. This can be used as a petrochemical feedstock, a manufacturing commodity such as paraffin wax, or as a clean and more sustainable fuel substitute for fossil-based HFO, which also displaces imported oil.

Recycling Technologies will work with Ricardo to 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. The Ricardo Atlas II research engine will be used for this work: this advanced test engine is capable of efficiently evaluating the performance of fuels in large, multi-cylinder engine designs ranging from 150-200mm bore and representing engines in the class 0.5 to 5MW, in a single power cylinder. This can result in a reduction exceeding 90% of the test fuel consumed in a typical research or development project.

In the early stages of the Recycling Technologies project, a thorough review of the properties of Plaxx as a combustion engine fuel will be carried out in order that a comprehensive test plan can be developed. Back-to-back testing of Plaxx against diesel and HFO will then be undertaken over a range of loads using the Atlas II engine. Combustion characterisation will also be trialled based on the measured in-cylinder pressure, power, specific fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. This will help to fully understand the behaviour of Plaxx in this type of engine and enable the further refinement of engine and fuel settings for maximum efficiency and low emissions.

“Finding solutions to landfill diversion is a critical challenge facing modern society,” commented Dr Adam Read, Ricardo Energy & Environment practice director for resource efficiency and waste management. “The ability to generate fuels and recover plastics is key to the sustainable management of the world’s resources. As such, assessing the viability of the process during the pilot phase is an exciting and potentially ground-breaking step for Ricardo and the team from Recycling Technologies.”

July 4, 2016

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About Author

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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