Atlas II Research Engine to Test Waste Plastic Based Fuel

Ricardo & Recycling Tehnologies Team up on Plastic to Liquid Fuel Project

Swindon, UK based Recycling Technologies, a specialist in waste plastic recovery innovations, is working with consultants from Ricardo’s Energy & Environment division to characterise the use fuel produced from recycled plastics in applications such as power generation and marine propulsion.

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Swindon, UK based Recycling Technologies, a specialist in waste plastic recovery innovation, is working with consultants from Ricardo’s Energy & Environment division to characterise the use of fuel produced from recycled plastics in applications such as power generation and marine propulsion.

According to Ricardo, Recycling Technologies’ Plaxx™ fuel is low sulphur and can be used as a substitute for fossil based heavy fuel oil (HFO) and diesel. It is created from residual mixed plastic waste that is not amenable to direct recycling and would otherwise go to landfill.

The consultancy said that as part of the project it will work with Recycling Technologies to assess the relative performance of Plaxx, HFO and diesel when used in an engine of the type and scale typical found in power generation or marine propulsion applications.

To achieve this Ricardo will use its Atlas II research engine. It said that this engine is capable of efficiently evaluating the performance of fuels in large, multi-cylinder engine designs ranging from 150-200 mm bore and representing engines in the 0.5 to 5 MW class in a single power cylinder.

Such research is claimed to be capable of resulting in a reduction exceeding 90% of the test fuel consumed in a typical research or development project.

Testing Time

Recycling Technologies is currently industrialising a process to convert residual plastic waste into a low sulphur hydrocarbon compound known as Plaxx using its RT7000 machine.

According to Ricardo 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.

In the early stages of this project the consultants said that 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 & waste management.

“The ability to generate fuels and recover plastics is key to the sustainable management of the world’s resources,” he continued. “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.”
Adrian Griffiths, CEO Recycling Technologies explained that the marine industry is a key market as the use of high sulphur oil is increasingly being restricted.

“We are now taking steps to get Plaxx qualified so that it is fit for use in medium and large marine engines,” he said.

According to Griffiths Plaxx is an ultra-low sulphur feedstock and can be adapted for use in any markets where crude oil derivatives are used.

“Through this pilot project, we hope to qualify Plaxx as meeting the new global MARPOL requirements,” he added.

Funding
Recycling Technologies has funded its extensive R&D projects through various government funding organisations, including the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and the Energy Catalyst grant with the University of West England (UWE), funded by Innovate UK.

There has been additional support from other government funding organisations, such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.


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