A multi-million dollar contract has been signed to recycle end-of-life plastics, which aims to provide a solution to the major issue of increasing landfill.
End-of-life plastics. (Photo courtesy of Licella)
The end-of-life plastic ‘rubbish’ will be made into liquid fuel in a commercial plant built in Australia for use in the UK.
Australian-based Renewable Chemical Technologies Limited (RCTL) is investing more than $10m (approx. GBP £5m) into ‘Licella’, a start-up company of Professor Thomas Maschmeyer from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry, to build the world’s first commercial hydrothermal waste upgrading plant.
RCTL is backed by leading UK renewable energy company Armstrong Energy, which last month funded the most recent of Professor Maschmeyer’s university spin-offs, Gelion Technologies, with an investment of $11m (approx. GBP £5.5m) to develop rechargeable battery technology using nanostructured gels.
Enabled by this latest funding, secured this week, Licella will develop and test a recycling plant in Australia before shipping it to the UK. The first plant will be integrated into an existing facility, but it is envisioned that a series of plants will be developed across the UK using Licella’s technology.
The aim of the partnership is for RCTL to develop projects to convert end-of-life plastics into high-quality oil, suitable for blending into standard hydrocarbon fuels, using Licella’s proprietary Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) platform that has been developed in partnership with the University of Sydney.
Professor Maschmeyer said the partnership would tackle the issue of what to do with end-of-life plastics - the remnants of mixed plastics with small amounts of paper and cardboard that are left over from more easily recyclable components.
"Dealing with end-of-life plastics is challenging and expensive, as they vary considerably and have traditionally had to be sorted in order to be recycled effectively," Professor Maschmeyer explained.
“This investment will allow for the deployment of our technological solution on a commercial scale - with up to 20,000 tonnes to be transformed from waste to product annually from next year just from the first plant alone,” said Dr. Len Humphreys, Chairman of Licella.
Co-founder of Armstrong Energy, Dr Steve Mahon, said he was excited about being involved in the remarkable versatile platform that is the Cat-HTR.
"It is a great solution to the increasing landfill issues associated with end of life plastics in the UK," Dr Mahon said.