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Plans for UK’s first plastic-to-diesel plants

United Kingdom – Recycling and resource management company SITA UK, a subsidiary of French firm Suez Environnement, has signed an exclusive agreement with Cynar Plc to build the UK’s first fully-operational plants to convert end-of-life plastics into diesel fuel using a liquefaction technology based on pyrolysis and distillation.

Cynar is a UK company established to commercialise the ThermoFuel technology for which it has been granted the exclusive UK and Ireland licence by Ozmotech Pty Ltd. Cynar’s first plant is already operating in Portlaoise, Ireland. The objective of the new agreement is to build 10 plants in the UK capable of handling a total of around 60 000 tonnes of mixed plastics waste per annum, with the first to be commissioned in London by the end of 2011. The aim is then to build two or three plastic-to-diesel conversion plants per year, depending on planning. Designed to process approximately 6000 tonnes a year, each plant will specifically target mixed plastic waste diverted from landfill and will produce in excess of 4 million litres of specification diesel fuel. The process is thought likely to be cheaper than that for normal diesel production while the fuel itself is expected to boast a lower carbon footprint than conventional diesel. Fuel quality will be on a par with its conventional counterpart without the need for any further refining. Under the Cynar system, plastic waste is pyrolised at 370-420 degC and continuously treated in a cylindrical chamber; pyrolytic gases are condensed in a specially-designed system to yield predominantly straight chain aliphatic hydrocarbons with only minor formation of by-products. These hydrocarbons are then selectively condensed and cleaved catalytically to produce the average carbon chain length required for distillate fuel. David Palmer-Jones, Chief Executive of SITA UK, says the ‘landmark’ agreement with Cynar will provide ‘a commercial solution to the environmental challenge of treating waste plastic that can’t be recycled’.

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