A newly commercial British technology which converts waste plastic into clean energy is ready to solve the problem of waste plastic from the UK ending up in vast mounds in Malaysia. This crisis has been graphically exposed in the recent BBC1 documentary ‘War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita’.
This technology, known as, DMG® (Distributed Modular Generation )has been ten years in development by British company PowerHouse Energy. It takes non-recyclable mixed waste plastic and
through a chemically engineered process operated at very high temperatures, it vaporises the plastic in the absence of oxygen to produce gas which comprises hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide.
Hydrogen powered generation
The hydrogen can be used to power vehicles, typically using hydrogen fuel cells, and the other gases in the mix can be used to generate electricity.
Research and Development has been undertaken in conjunction with the University of Chester with a demonstrator unit being located on the University’s Energy Park in Thornton. The technology received independent validation that it works in November 2018 from DNV-GL, one of the largest companies in the world which independently certifies new technologies.
A key attribute of this technology is its relatively small size and modular construction meaning it can be located where the waste is situated and it needs only half an acre of land to operate on and can be up and running in just 10 months. And the beauty of the system is the proportion of gases produced can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of the community in which it is located.
British technology powering homes and vehicles
A typical DMG® powered plant will convert 1 truck full (25 tonnes) of plastic waste a day into enough energy to power 4,000 homes for 24 hours and 60,000 miles of hydrogen-powered car motoring or for 20 HGVs each to travel 300 miles.
And this process has the benefit of producing clean energy at a commercially attractive price, in particular with regards hydrogen, the cleanest fuel on the planet, which is produced at a cost that
competes with that of diesel and petrol.
This technology which recovers energy from plastic waste is also highly complementary to the numerous other technologies and approaches which are being used to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste, all of which are required if the war on plastic is to be won.
Global waste management
A compelling example of how this technology will use plastic that may otherwise end up in Malaysia, or indeed that which is shipped back to the UK, would be to locate a DMG plant on a UK waste management sites and on the same site locate a hydrogen fuelling station to power super-green
hydrogen-powered local buses to servicing the local community. In particular, this would provide an immediate solution for those councils which have found, to their embarrassment, their recyclable plastics being destined to end up on a rubbish tip in Malaysia or elsewhere.
Furthermore, DMG® technology can be utilised to directly benefit Malaysian communities where the plastic waste could be used to generate electricity for areas which currently have no or very limited access to the electricity grid. A local plant using just 25 tonnes of plastic waste would create circa 58MWh of electrical power per day, enough to provide for communities of several thousand people in the developing areas of Malaysia.
An opportunity to make change
“We can do this and relish the opportunity to show just what can be achieved with our energy recovery process, which alongside other commendable initiatives being deployed is the responsible thing to do ”, commented PowerHouse Energy’s Chief Executive, David Ryan, the man behind the company that created this exciting technology.
He adds: “Our process regenerates the energy contained within the plastic, producing a clean gas for electricity and hydrogen for road transport, the cleanest fuel on the planet, at a cost which makes it a real contender to replace petrol and diesel, and that has to be a benefit to all of us everywhere.
“The scope of application for this technology is truly global and with the support we are seeking from governments and commercial partners across the world it is ideally placed to make a significant impact in helping win the war on plastic.”