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Turning plastic waste into high-quality winter diesel fuel

By Gerald Ondrey |

Using a proprietary technique and Clariant’s (Muttenz, Switzerland; www.clariant.com) Hydex E next-generation hydro-dewaxing catalyst, VUCHT a.s (Bratislava, Slovakia; www.vucht.sk) has successfully converted plastic waste into premium winter-fuel distillate. The efficacy of this process has now been proven in a pilot plant in Slovakia.

VUCHT is the research institute of part of Duslo a.s. (Šal’a, Slovakia), a major Slovak producer of fertilizers, specialty nitrogen compounds and rubber chemicals. The institute uses a pyrolysis process to convert a variety of plastic waste collected in the country, such as polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), into diesel fuel. The process thermally degrades the plastic at temperatures above 300°C (530°F), converting it into liquid oil comprised of various hydrocarbon compounds. Recently, the institute developed a proprietary technique to further convert the liquid oil into a high-quality fuel distillate known as winter diesel.

The winter diesel produced is compliant with Euro 6 fuel-emission standards, including cold-flow properties specified for temperatures as low as –30°F (–34°C), typically required in arctic areas. To achieve this extreme improvement in cold flow, Clariant’s Hydex E hydro-dewaxing catalyst was applied. Hydex E is a selective zeolite-based isomerization hydro-dewaxing catalyst developed for highly paraffinic feedstocks.

After intensive pilot testing proved the technical viability and economic appeal of the process, VUCHT is planning to expand the method’s success in a custom-built demonstration plant, which will have a fuel-distillate capacity of 40 metric tons per year (m.t./yr).

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