JBI, Inc. has entered into an agreement with Rock-Tenn Company to convert mill by-product waste into fuel using JBI’s Plastic2Oil technology. The products of the P2O process are naphtha, fuel oil, and an off-gas similar to natural gas. Naphtha is similar in many respects to gasoline, and fuel oil is similar in many respects to diesel fuel. The lighter naphtha can be refined into gasoline or used for other applications, and the heavier fuel oil is intended for use in furnaces, boilers and other heating applications.
Under the agreement, JBI has an exclusive ten-year license with a renewal option to build and operate Plastic2Oil (P2O) processors at RockTenn facilities to process RockTenn’s waste plastic at paper mills and Material Recovery Facilities (MRF) and to mine and process plastic from RockTenn’s plastic-filled monofill sites.
RockTenn’s paper mills and MRFs currently produce thousands of tons of plastic per day. To handle the plastic waste stream, RockTenn has been storing this by-product in company-owned plastic-only monofill sites for several years. The agreement gives JBI the exclusive rights to mine plastic from these sites.
JBI’s P2O process converts waste plastic into fuel without the need of further refinement. JBI scaled a 1kg process to a 20MT commercial processor in less than one year.
There are a number of different types of processes that can convert plastic and other hydrocarbon materials into products for use in the production of fuels, chemicals and recycled items. These include pyrolysis; catalytic conversion; depolymerization; and gasification. The Plastic2Oil conversion process is similar to pyrolysis, and involves the cracking of plastic hydrocarbon chains at ambient pressure and low temperature using a reusable catalyst.
In addition to liquid fuel, the P2O process produces off-gas, which is similar to natural gas. In order to avoid having to flare the off-gas, JBI uses a gas compression system that buffers and regulates the off-gas and then feeds the off-gas into the P2O processor’s furnace, creating a closed loop operating system.
Excess off-gas is stored in mobile tanks and can be sold or used to cold-start the P2O processor’s furnace. In other words, the P2O process requires minimal external energy to operate since the processor can operate on its own captured and stored off-gas, according to JBI.
To most efficiently load the P2O processor, the plastic feedstock is passed through a shredder and granulator. A hopper is loaded with approximately 1,800 pounds of waste plastic using a forklift. The plastic is loaded into the processor by a continuous conveyor belt between the hopper and reactor. The plastic is then fed into the processor chamber where it is heated by burning off-gas produced from the conversion process.
In the reactor, plastic hydrocarbons are cracked into various shorter hydrocarbon chains and exit in a gaseous state. Any residue or non-usable substances remain in the processor chamber and must be removed periodically. From the processor, the gasses containing fuel oil and naphtha are condensed and separated, then proceed into temporary fuel tanks.
The fuel output is transferred to additional tanks for storage automatically by the system. Automated systems control the conveyor feed rate, manage system temperatures and the off-gas compression systems and control the pumping out of newly created fuel to storage tanks. The entire cycle for one 1,800 pound load of plastic takes less than one hour.
A 20 MT capacity P2O processor at the Niagara Falls Facility resides in an approximately 10,000 square foot building and is about 24 feet high at its highest point. Operations and general maintenance for this processor requires approximately 3,000 square feet of space. The process is automated, and the machine is equipped with 63 different sensors. General operations involve monitoring the display screen to track the machine’s operating parameters, and the loading of plastic onto the machine’s in-feed system.
JBI engaged IsleChem, an independent chemical firm providing contract R&D, contract manufacturing and scale-up services, at the end of 2009 to validate the P2O process and provide engineering support so that JBI could apply for an Air Permit for the Niagara Falls Facility.
IsleChem performed more than 60 small-scale runs of various types of multicolored, mixed plastic feedstock. After analyzing the energy consumption, residue, off-gas, and material balance, IsleChem determined that our P2O process is repeatable and scalable. In confirming the validity and reliability of the P2O process, IsleChem provided the following information regarding the fuel product composition and process emissions:
JBI’s P2O solution is repeatable and scalable.
Approximately 85-90% of the hydrocarbon composition in the feedstock is converted into a “near diesel” fuel.
Approximately 8% of the hydrocarbon composition in the feedstock is converted to a usable off-gas similar to natural gas.
Approximately 2% of the feedstock remains in the processor as a residue. This analyzed residue contains various metals from coloring agents, a small amount of carbon, and other plastic additives that were originally in the feedstock plastic.
The fuel product was analyzed with a gas chromatograph and the chromatogram is similar in many respects to diesel fuel.
The fuel product viscosity is approximately 2 cP @ 40 °C, and is an amber fuel.
The fuel product contains only trace amounts of sulphur.
The fuel product Cetane number exceeds 40.
The residue does not appear to contain any highly toxic or difficult to dispose of components.
There is no evidence of air toxins in the emissions.
The energy balance of the process is positive; that is, more energy value is produced than is consumed by the process. Early data suggests that it is by as much as a factor of two.
All plastics tested produced residue of only about 1%, which passes all Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure testing, is non-hazardous, and is permitted in landfills.
Various other fuel tests have been conducted by Intertek and Petrolabs.