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Ricardo and Recycling Technologies to characterize Plaxx plastic-waste-derived-fuel for marine applications

UK-based Recycling Technologies is industrializing a process—originally developed at the University of Warwick (UK)—to convert residual plastic waste into a low-sulfur hydrocarbon compound called Plaxx. Plaxx is created from residual mixed plastic waste that is not amenable to direct recycling and would otherwise go to landfill.

The company, a 2013 spin-out from the University, is now working with Ricardo to characterize the use of this recycled, low-sulfur fuel as a substitute for fossil based heavy fuel oil (HFO) and diesel in applications such as power generation and marine propulsion.

Recycling Technologies’ RT7000 machine uses an ur advanced fluidized bed reactor, the WarwickFBR. Click to enlarge.

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% is recycled, with 36% going for incineration, while the remaining 38% contributes to the ever expanding problem of landfill.

In addition to the loss of its material value, the carbon cost of processing this mixed waste is considerable, not least due to transportation, as many regions and states export their mixed plastic waste due to a lack of localized processing facilities.

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, multi-cylinder 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% of the test fuel consumed in a typical research or development project.

In the early stages of the Recycling Technologies project, a thorough review of the properties of Plaxx as a combustion engine fuel will be carried out in order that a comprehensive test plan can be developed.

Back-to-back testing of Plaxx against diesel and HFO will then be undertaken over a range of loads using the Atlas II engine. Combustion characterization will also be trialed based on the measured in-cylinder pressure, power, specific fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. This will help to fully understand the behavior of Plaxx in this type of engine and enable the further refinement of engine and fuel settings for maximum efficiency and low emissions.

Recycling Technologies has funded its extensive R&D projects through various government funding organizations, including the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and the Energy Catalyst grant with the University of West England (UWE), funded by Innovate UK. There has been additional support from other government funding organisations, such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.



The process resembles the operation of a petroleum coker, cracking heavy fractions into lighter, refinable fragments and solid carbon.


For marine applications eh? That might be appropriate considering the amount of plastic that's circulating around our oceans.


Yes, it does paint a nice picture. Cleaning up the oceans of plastic and powering the vessels with a fuel derived form it.
We are very excited to conduct this study and commercialise the product over the coming years...

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