This collaborative project investigates recovering valuable chemicals from plastic-containing waste streams via advanced thermal conversion for use as liquid fuels and/or for use as base chemicals for manufacturing.

At a glance

The UK currently exports over 3 million tonnes per annum [tpa] of refuse-derived fuels [RDF] each year, due to an under-capacity of suitable infrastructure in the UK.

This RDF material is energy-rich and represents a loss-of-resource once it leaves the UK.  Similarly, substantial quantities, around 340,000 tpa, of rejected and mixed low-grade plastics arise from UK material recycling facilities [MRFs] each year as the market for recycling this material is not viable.  This project seeks to demonstrate that RDF and low-grade plastic reject MRF materials, being rich in plastic content, can be used in a town-scale advanced thermal treatment [ATT] plant to produce affordable and high-quality liquid fuels, which can be stored until required and used by local customers. 

The technology proposed here will contribute to all aspects of the energy trilemma as well as offering a community-scale solution for waste management.  A demonstrator-scale pyrolysis plant, operated by Syngas Products, will test various plastic-containing feedstocks to understand the thermochemical conversion of wastes into oils, comprising a complex mixture of organic compounds.  This project will investigate, model and validate a further step to an existing Advanced Thermal Treatment (ATT) demonstration plant, post-pyrolysis, which will enable valuable products to be recovered. 

In Nigeria, the electricity connection is sporadic and unreliable, which is typical across many African countries, hence there is an inherent reliance on costly diesel back-up generators as primary sources of electricity generation. WestAfricaENRG [WAE] is amongst the more progressive companies and has built and operates a 280,000 tpa MRF in Lagos - this is the first MRF in Nigeria. If rolled-out in Nigeria, the outputs of the waste pyrolysis would provide a 'greener' fuel for these generators, thus adding security to the power supply and reducing the reliance on pure fossil-fuels in addition to stimulating development of more MRFs in Nigeria.  

Further information

This project follows a previous project funded by Innovate UK and EPSRC, led by Syngas Products, where the thermochemical conversion of refuse-derived fuels was demonstrated in a pre-commercial facility.  A comprehensive process model was developed and validated, enabling the project partners to apply different feedstocks to the model to accurately estimate actual process performance.

This work has been presented at international conferences and will be disseminated through journal publications soon.

Syngas Products