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Local recycler ignites Euro fuel market
The ThermoFuel process can turn one tonne of waste plastic into 950 litres of clean diesel.

After two years fine-tuning its ThermoFuel system, to turn unsorted plastic waste into diesel, Ozmotech has signed a substantial European contract.

Within five to seven years Melbourne-based environmental technology manufacturer Ozmotech is expecting to see up to 30 of its ThermoFuel waste plastic-to-diesel systems installed and commissioned in Britain and Europe.

CEO Garry Baker made the announcement after receiving deposits on a contract for seven systems. If the company achieves its target, more than 300,000 tonnes of waste plastics will be diverted from European landfills each year and turned into over 310 million litres of low sulphur diesel fuel.

ThermoFuel uses a pyrolysis chamber, a patented catalytic converter and a series of specially built condensers to produce energy-rich diesel fuel from unsorted waste plastics. Plastics that are unsuitable for other recycling purposes because of an undesirable or contaminated mix of polymers are no problem.

Ozmotech has spent two years developing the original technology into a fully operational system capable of producing over 19,000 litres of diesel fuel per day for less than 30 cents per litre. Several systems are already in operation in Japan but the fuels produced are used exclusively for power generation through diesel generators. The fuel is not good enough for road use.

"The flash point was too low, [and] the pour point and cloud points were too high. The system was not economically viable to operate in most other countries if the fuel could only be used for power generation," said Baker.

"We had to make the fuel comply with standards and regulations in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia for road use, and that is where the real work began."

The list of technical and operational issues that had to be addressed was daunting, including system efficiency, throughput, sulphur levels, contaminants, OH&S and fuel properties.

Almost every element of the system has been reviewed, redesigned or modified to give three distinct results: a higher daily throughput, which is now up from the original two tonnes per day to the current 20 tonnes; a superior quality fuel suitable for all types of diesel engines; and more finite controls over many of the production and operational elements.

Comprehensive testing of fuel quality has shown similarities with refinery fuels. Some potential operators initially queried the suitability of the fuel for use in trucks and the implications for engine warranties. Baker said the ThermoFuel diesel complies with all recognised standards and expects there will be no detrimental effect on warranties.

"In fact, ThermoFuel diesels have a number of advantages over refinery produced fuels. First, the cetane rating of the fuel can be adjusted during production, and higher cetane will deliver smoother running engines, easier starting and a range of other gains to the operator. Tests have shown engines running on ThermoFuel diesel to be marginally more efficient, and the high lubricity of the fuel indicates a lessening of the wear and tear that hard working motors endure."

Baker is pleased with progress, with sales rocketing to $50 million per annum in less than four years.

More information from Marc Middleton, Ozmotech marketing manager, on (03) 9550 3300 or info@ozmotech.com.au

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