In the European Union alone, more than 25 million tonnes of post-consumer waste plastic is produced each year. Of this huge quantity of material, only 26 per cent is recycled, with 36 per cent going for incineration, while the remaining 38 per cent contributes to the ever-expanding problem of landfill. To help address this global issue, Recycling Technologies has developed a machine (RT7000) 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.

In a new project, Ricardo 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 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, multicylinder engine designs ranging from 150-200 mm bore and representing engines in the class 0.5 to 5 MW, in a single power cylinder. This can result in a reduction exceeding 90 per cent of the test fuel consumed in a typical research or development project.

“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. 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.”