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New horizons for fuel from mixed plastic waste?

United Kingdom – A new UK research project is to test whether Plaxx – a fuel made from mixed plastic waste – can substitute crude-derived fuels to power industrial and marine engines.

Vessels such as tankers and ferries have diesel engines which currently use heavy fuel oil. This initiative is aimed at discovering whether Plaxx could be used efficiently and without increasing engine wear. The hope is that the research will yield a new long-term application for that portion of the plastic waste stream that cannot be successfully recycled mechanically.

Funded by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the project will be led by Associate Professor Farid Dailami of Bristol Robotics Laboratory in partnership with Recycling Technologies, the developer of Plaxx.

Dailami believes the new fuel could offer an innovative means of replacing fossil fuels while also providing ‘huge environmental benefits’ over standard diesel fuel. Plaxx is the product of plastic depolymerisation and comprises a mixture of hydrocarbon monomers similar to crude oil.

Very low in sulphur and other organic and inorganic contaminants, the substance is currently a soft wax at room temperature but a low-viscosity liquid at 70°C. It can also be further refined and so could be used as an input to plastics manufacturing.

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