The UK Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks and Swanley, Laura Trott, has visited QM Recycled Energy (QMRE) in Kent and spoken of her pleasure at seeing how can be plastics recycled back into oil and then back to renewable plastics.
QMRE utilizes a technology known as thermolysis – a form of pyrolysis to turn plastics waste back into the oil it was originally made from and, using an additional process, turns the oil back into renewable plastics. The company plans to set up a nationwide network of plastics waste-2-oil processing depots.
The site at Fawkham is the company’s test, development, and demonstration unit aimed at showcasing the system to a wide range of potential customers including supermarket groups, recycling operators, retail parks, industrial parks, food production companies, anaerobic digestion, the farming industry, commercial businesses, the NHS and local authorities amongst others.
Trott saw how the waste plastics are cleaned and size-reduced and fed into what is, in effect, a thermal kettle, which is heated to around 450 deg C.
At this heat level, the thermolysis reaction occurs – breaking down the long plastics hydrocarbon chains – producing gas and oil, which enter a separator. The liquid element enters the condenser and cools as liquid oil. The gas enters the purification system and is cleaned and combusted without entering the atmosphere to provide power for the plant.
The synthetic Quel-oil is created is and stored in tanks. The residual element of carbon ash created as a result of the process is packaged. A new synthetic oil – syncrude (QMRE’s brand Quel) – is created and can then be sent to plastics cracking factories where it is turned into new and renewable plastics, reducing the need for waste plastics to be endlessly shifted and reducing the negative carbon footprint it creates.
Tim StClair-Pearce, the co-founder of QMRE, believes the national deployment of this solution will aid the circular economy, allow the continued use of plastics for what it is good for, and vastly reduce the need to use virgin polymers for all future generations.
“With the huge environmental problems caused by plastics pollution it is important that the UK parliament is aware that there are solutions out there,” said StClair-Pearce.