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David McNAMARA

CYNAR - Plastic-to-Oil











Recycles waste plastic to oil w/ high efficiency & yield. See Also :  ITO  //  ZADGOANKAR  //  BERL


 
http://www.gizmag.com/fuel-plastic-waste-sydney-london-flight/26391/  
February 26, 2013
 
Recycled Plastic Converted to Fuel

by

Adam Williams


British pilot Jeremy Rowsell is set to fly solo from Sydney to London in a Cessna 182 aircraft powered solely by diesel derived from "end-of-life" plastic (ELP) waste. If all goes to plan, the endeavor will set a new record time for the journey in a single-engine piston plane, and represent a compelling argument for the viability of ELP as a fuel source.
 
The project, dubbed "On Wings of Waste," was conceived following longtime pilot Rowsell's growing concern about the role that the aviation industry plays in harming the environment, in addition to the larger problem of pollution in general. To bring attention to the practicability of recycled plastic as a fuel source, Rowsell teamed up with Cynar PLC, an Irish company that converts ELP into synthetic diesel.

Gizmag spoke with Cynar CEO Michael Murray via telephone, who explained that the company converts ELP typically destined for landfills into useful diesel. The conversion involves pyrolysis, which is the process of thermal degradation of a material in the absence of oxygen - so heating, but no burning, takes place.

ELP is broken down into gases by the pyrolysis process, then put through a specially-designed condenser system in order to produce a mixture equivalent to petroleum distillates. This is then further treated to produce liquid fuel, while leftover gases are diverted back into the furnaces which heat the plastics. Interestingly, the diesel produced by this method is actually claimed more efficient and lower in sulfur than generic diesel.

The only waste material left over from the ELP-to-diesel conversion process is roughly five percent char, which can also be put to use in the building industry for concrete and tile manufacturing.

Each Cynar plant can produce up to 19,000 liters (around 5,000 US gallons) of fuel from 20 tons of ELP per day. For the roughly 4,000 liters (1,000 US gallons) of fuel that Rowsell's flight will consume, approximately five tons of waste plastic will be recycled.

Cynar's tech is being incorporated into several worldwide waste recycling firms, enabling such companies to convert ELP into diesel themselves. In addition, Cynar has penned an agreement with the UK's Loughborough University to in a bid to further advance research on the subject.

While the diesel produced by Cynar's recycling process has been used many times in vehicles, Rowsell's flight will be the first time it has been used to power an airborne journey.

The pilot will follow in the footsteps of aviation pioneers such as Charles Kingsford-Smith and Bert Hinkler. He'll be flying for stretches of up to 13 hours at a time, usually at around 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), while crossing massive swathes of land and sea, for a total of around 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km).

The ambitious voyage is scheduled to take place this coming July.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9889896/Pilot-attempts-first-flight-powered-only-by-household-plastic-waste.html
23 Feb 2013

Pilot attempts first flight powered only by household plastic waste

By

Josie Ensor

...His flight will be powered by five tons of discarded packaging and waste collected from rubbish dumps and – using a pioneering technique – melted down into 1,000 gallons of aviation-grade diesel.

The 41-year-old will leave Sydney in July, flying over Asia, the Middle East and then Europe, and hoping to arrive in London six days later, after flying a single-engine Cessna 172 about 1,500 miles a day at a speed of about 115mph.

To do this, he will have to fly for up to 15-hour stretches to reach his scheduled stops on time. He will travel at an altitude of 5,000ft – much lower than commercial airliners, which reach up to 40,000ft on long-haul flights.

The fuel will come solely from so-called “end-of-life” plastic that cannot be recycled and would otherwise end up as landfill, including household waste such as packaging and wrapping.

The plastic will be collected from the countries in which he is scheduled to stop along the way and shipped to Cynar, the Dublin firm that will help process the waste into aviation-grade diesel.



http://www.cynarplc.com/cynar_technology.asp

The system uses liquefaction, pyrolysis and distillation of plastics. The system can handle almost all the End of Life Plastic that is currently being sent to landfills. A major advantage of the process is its high efficiency. Each plant can produce up to 19k litres of fuel from 20 tonnes of End of Life Plastic.

Current Situation of Recycling of Plastics

Various methodologies have been tried and tested to process waste or end of life plastics for many years, with recycling becoming the most common method reflecting the needs of today. Plastics that cannot be processed are handled by waste management companies mainly through land-filling or incineration.

The building or expanding of incinerators has become difficult due to opposition from governments and community groups with environmental concerns, most notably the levels of emissions.

Liquefaction of plastic is a superior method of reusing this resource. These distillate products are excellent fuels and make the Cynar Technology one of the best, economically feasible and environmentally sensitive recycling systems in the world today.

The synthetic fuels produced, given their low sulphur and high cetane qualities, will most likely be utilised by the recycling organisations on-site for use in the vehicle fleet as SITA plan to do or heavy equipment and generators.

Pyrolysis

Pyrolysis is a process of thermal degradation of a material in the absence of oxygen. Plastic is continuously treated in a cylindrical chamber and the pyrolytic gases condensed in a specially-designed condenser system to yield a hydrocarbon distillate comprising straight and branched chain aliphatics, cyclic aliphatics and aromatic hydrocarbons. The resulting mixture is essentially equivalent to petroleum distillate. The plastic is pyrolised at 370ºC-420ºC and the pyrolysis gases are condensed and liquid separated using fractional distillation to produce the liquid fuel products.

The essential steps in the pyrolysis of plastics involves:

evenly heating the plastic to a narrow temperature range without excessive temperature variations
purging oxygen from pyrolysis chamber,

managing the carbonaceous char by-product before it acts as a thermal insulator and lowers the heat transfer to the plastic
careful condensation and fractionation of the pyrolysis vapours to produce distillate of good quality and consistency

Structure of the System

The system consists of stock in-feed system, pyrolysis chambers, contactors, distillation, oil recovery line and syn-gas..

End of Life Plastics are loaded via a hot-melt infeed system directly into main pyrolysis chamber.

Agitation commences to even the temperature and homogenise the feedstocks. Pyrolysis then commences and the plastic becomes a vapour. Non-plastic materials fall to the bottom of the chamber.

The vapour is converted into the various fractions in the distillation column, the distillates then pass into the recovery tanks.

The System diverts the Syn Gas through a Scrubber and then back into the furnaces to heat the pyrolysis chambers.

The cleaned distillates are then pumped to the storage tanks.

Operations

The heart of the pyrolysis system is the prime chamber, which performs the essential functions of homogenisation and controlled decomposition in a single process. The process requires minimal maintenance and produces a consistent quality distillate from End of Life Plastic..

The key to an efficient pyrolysis process is to ensure the plastic is heated uniformly and rapidly. If temperature gradients develop in the molten plastic mass then different degrees of cracking will occur and products with a wide distribution of chain lengths will be formed.

Cynar has signed an Agreement with Loughborough University in the UK to Partner in the further advancement/optimisation of the Cynar Technolgy and is also looking at converting 'other' End of Life Plastic feedstocks. This strategic partnership will assist in ensuring that the Cynar Technology will remain the world leader in the Pyrolysis of End of Life Plastics to Liquid Fuel.

Process Flow Diagram





US2012261247
CONVERSION OF WASTE PLASTICS MATERIAL TO FUEL
    
Inventor:
MCNAMARA DAVID [IE]
MURRAY MICHAEL [IE]     
Applicant:
CYNAR PLASTICS RECYCLING LTD [IE]
MCNAMARA DAVID [IE] (+1)     
CPC: C10B47/18 // C10B53/07 // C10G1/10
IPC: C10B53/07 // C10G1/10 // F23G

A process is described for treating waste plasties material to provide at least one on-specification fuel product. Plasties material is melted (4) and then pyrolysed in an oxygen-free atmosphere to provide pyrolysis gases. The pyrolysis gases are brought into contact with plates (13) in a contactor vessel (7) so that some long chain gas components condense and return to be further pyrolysed to achieve thermal degradation. Short chain gas components exit the contactor in gaseous form; and proceed to distillation to provide one or more on-specification fuel products. There is a pipe (12) directly linking the pyrolysis chamber (6) to the contactor (7), suitable for conveying upwardly-moving pyrolysis gases and downwardly-flowing long-chain liquid for thermal degradation. There is a vacuum distillation tower (26) for further processing of liquid feeds from the first (atmospheric) distillation column (20). It has been found that having thermal degradation in the contactor and pyrolysis chamber and by having a second, vacuum, distillaton column helps to provide a particularly good quality on-specification liquid fuel.

Field of the Invention

The invention relates to conversion of waste hydrocarbon material such as plastics into fuel.

Prior Art

Discussion

GB2158089 (Suzy-Jen) describes a treatment process in which plastics is melted and heated to produce gas, the gas is condensed to provide an oily liquid, and this is fractionally distilled. WO2005/087897 (Ozmotech Pty) describes a process in which there may be multiple pyrolysis chambers. Pyrolysis gases are transferred into a catalytic converter where the molecular structure of the gaseous material is altered in structure and form WOOl/05908 (Xing) describes a process in which there are first and second cracking stages with first and second catalysts. US2003/0199718 (Miller) describes an approach in which there is pyrolysis and the reactor is maintained at a temperature in the range of 450[deg.]C and 700[deg.]C. The effluent from the pyrolysis reactor is passed to a catalytic summarization de-waxing unit.

The invention is directed towards providing a process which more consistently produces particular grades of "on-spec" fuel, and/or with an improved yield.

Summary of the Invention

According to the invention, there is provided a process for treating waste plastics material to provide at least one fuel product, the process comprising the steps of:

melting the waste plastics material,

pyrolysing the molten material in an oxygen-free atmosphere to provide pyrolysis gases; bringing the pyrolysis gases into a contactor having a bank of condenser elements so that some long chain gas components condense on said elements, returning said condensed long-chain material to be further pyrolysed to achieve thermal degradation, and allowing short chain gas components to exit from the contactor in gaseous form; and

distilling said pyrolysis gases from the contactor in a distillation column to provide one or more fuel products.

In one embodiment, the contactor elements comprise a plurality of plates forming an arduous path for the pyrolysis gases in the contactor. Preferably, the plates are sloped downwardly for run-off of the condensed long-chain hydrocarbon, and include apertures to allow upward progression of pyrolysis gases. In one embodiment, the contactor elements comprise arrays of plates on both sides of a gas path. In one embodiment, the contactor element plates are of stainless steel.

In one embodiment, the contactor is actively cooled by a cooling means. In one embodiment, the cooling is by a heat exchanger for at least one contactor element.

In one embodiment, there is a pipe directly linking the pyrolysis chamber to the contactor, the pipe being arranged for conveying upwardly-moving pyrolysis gases and downwardly-flowing long-chain liquid for thermal degradation.

In one embodiment, the cooling means comprises a contactor jacket and cooling fluid is directed into the jacket.

In one embodiment, the cooling means controls a valve linking the jacket with a flue, opening of the valve causing cooling by down-draught and closing of the valve causing heating.

In one embodiment, the valve provides access to a flue for exhaust gases of a combustion unit of the pyrolysis chamber. In one embodiment, infeed to the pyrolysis chamber is controlled according to monitoring of level of molten plastics in the chamber, as detected by a gamma radiation detector arranged to emit gamma radiation through the chamber and detect the radiation on an opposed side, intensity of received radiation indicating the density of contents of the chamber. In one embodiment, the pyrolysis chamber is agitated by rotation of at least two helical blades arranged to rotate close to an internal surface of the pyrolysis chamber. Preferably, the pyrolysis chamber is further agitated by a central auger. In one embodiment, the auger is located so that reverse operation of it causes output of char via a char outlet.

In one embodiment, the temperature of pyrolysis gases at an outlet of the contactor is maintained in the range of 240[deg.]C to 280[deg.]C. Preferably, the contactor outlet temperature is maintained by a heat exchanger at a contactor outlet. In one embodiment, a bottom section of the distillation column is maintained at a temperature in the range of 200[deg.]C to 240[deg.]C, preferably 210[deg.]C to 230[deg.]C. Preferably, the top of the distillation column is maintained at a temperature in the range of 90[deg.]C to 110[deg.]C, preferably approximately 100[deg.]C. In one embodiment, diesel is drawn from the distillation column and is further distilled to provide on-specification fuels.

In one embodiment, material is drawn from the top of the distillation column to a knock-out pot which separates water, oil, and non-condensable gases, in turn feeding a gas scrubber to prepare synthetic gases for use in furnaces.

In one embodiment, there is further distillation of some material is in a vacuum distillation column. Preferably, heavy or waxy oil fractions are drawn from the bottom of the vacuum distillation column. In one embodiment, said heavy or waxy oil is recycled back to the pyrolysis chamber. In one embodiment, desired grade on-specification diesel is drawn from a middle section of the vacuum distillation column. In one embodiment, light fractions are drawn from a top section of the vacuum distillation column and are condensed.

In one embodiment, the pyrolysis chamber and the contactor are purged in isolation from downstream components of the system. In one embodiment, a purging gas such as nitrogen is pumped through the pyrolysis chamber and the contactor and directly from the contactor to a thermal oxidizer where purging gas is burned. Preferably, any pyrolysis gases remaining at the end of a batch process are delivered from the contactor and are burned off together with the purging gas. In one embodiment, load on a pyrolysis chamber agitator is monitored to provide an indication of when char drying is taking place. In another aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for treating waste plastics material to provide at least one fuel product, the apparatus comprising:

means for melting the waste plastics material,

a pyrolysis chamber for pyrolysing the molten material in an oxygen-free atmosphere to provide pyrolysis gases;

a conduit for bringing the pyrolysis gases into a contactor having a bank of condenser elements so that some long chain gas components condense on said elements,

a conduit for returning said condensed long-chain material to be further pyrolysed to achieve thermal degradation,

a conduit for allowing short chain gas components to exit from the contactor in gaseous form; and

a distillation column for distilling said pyrolysis gases from the contactor to provide one or more fuel products.

In one embodiment, the contactor elements comprise a plurality of plates forming an arduous path for the pyrolysis gases in the contactor.

In one embodiment, the plates are sloped downwardly for run-off of the condensed long-chain hydrocarbon, and include apertures to allow upward progression of pyrolysis gases. In one embodiment, there is a pipe directly linking the pyrolysis chamber to the contactor, the pipe being arranged for conveying upwardly-moving pyrolysis gases and downwardly-flowing long-chain liquid for thermal degradation.

In one embodiment, the apparatus comprises a cooling means adapted to control a valve linking the jacket with a flue, opening of the valve causing cooling by down-draught and closing of the valve causing heating.

In one embodiment, the valve provides access to a flue for exhaust gases of a combustion unit of the pyrolysis chamber. In one embodiment, the apparatus further comprises a purging means adapted to purge the pyrolysis chamber and the contactor in isolation from downstream components of the system, and to pump a purging gas through the pyrolysis chamber and the contactor and directly from the contactor to a thermal oxidizer where purging gas is burned.

Detailed Description of the Invention

The invention will be more clearly understood from the following description of some embodiments thereof, given by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which :-

Fig. 1 is a diagram showing a system of the invention for treatment of waste plastics; and


Fig. 2 is a set of plots showing various key parameters monitored during operation of the system.


System

Referring to Fig. 1 , a system for treatment of waste plastics comprises the following main components:

1, two waste plastics infeed hoppers, each receiving pelletized or flaked plastics material including all polythene variants, polystyrene, and polyproplene;

2, plastics infeed conveyor;

3, weigh belt:

4, extruder having four heating stages to melt the plastics material to a final temperature of about 300[deg.]C, 5, feed lines from the extruder 4 to two pyrolysis chambers 6;

6, pyrolysis chambers or reactors, of which there are four, each for oxygen-free pyrolysis of the hydrocarbons and delivering pyrolysis gases to a contactor 7, and each chamber 6 has a combustion unit 8 and a char outlet 9;

7, contactor having a cooling jacket 7(a), 10, purge lines for the pyrolysis chambers 6 and the contactors 7, 11, flue valves for the contactors 7, linking an exhaust flue to a jacket around the contactor vessel;

12, pipe linking each pyrolysis chamber 6 with its associated contactor 7, to allow hydrocarbon vapour (pyrolysis gases) to flow up and condensed heavy long-chain hydrocarbon material to flow back into the pyrolysis chamber 6 for thermal degradation treatment;

13, stainless steel plates of the contactor, arranged with holes so pyrolysis gases can pass upwardly, and being sloped so that condensed long-chain hydrocarbon material runs down and back to the relevant pyrolysis chamber 6 via the pipe 12;

15, pyrolysis gas outlet manifold for routing to distillation;

20, first (atmospheric) distillation column;

21 , pump for diesel output of bottom of the first distillation column 20, feeding a cooler 22, in turn feeding a diesel holding tank 23 and a re-circulation link back to the distillation column 20;

24, pump for pumping diesel fuel from the tank 23 to a heater 25, which feeds a vacuum distillation column 26;

27, pump for pumping waxy residues to a heater 28 for re-circulation, or as a recycled feedback to the pyrolysis chambers 6 according to control by valves, not shown;

35, pump for pumping diesel via a cooler 36 from the vacuum distillation column 26 to a diesel holding tank 37;

38, feedback link from the diesel product tank 37 to the holding tank 23, for use if the final product diesel is determined after testing to not be at the required standard;

40, outlet from the top of the first distillation column 20 to a light oil product tank 41 ;

42, cooler for feed from the top of the vacuum distillation column 26 to a light oil tank 45;

45, light oil tank having a link to a thermal oxidizer;

46, pump for delivering light oil from the tank 45 to the light oil product tank 41 ;

55, pump for pumping kerosene from the vacuum distillation column 26 to a kerosene product tank 60;

70, cooler arranged to draw from the top of the first distillation column 20 to a knock-out pot

71 which separates water, oil, and non-condensable gases, in turn feeding a gas scrubber

72 to prepare synthetic gases for use in furnaces.

Process

Waste plastics material is processed to granular or flake form. It is heated in the extruder 4 and molten plastics is fed into the pyrolysis chambers 6. This is done while ensuring that no oxygen enters the system and molten plastics is maintained as close as possible to a pyrolysis temperature, preferably 300[deg.]C to 320[deg.]C.

In each pyrolysis chamber 6 the plastics material is heated to 390[deg.]C to 410[deg.]C in a nitrogen- purged system while agitating. Agitation is performed by a double helical agitator with a central screw, and the helical blades sweep at a separation of about 5 mm from the chamber internal surface. This maximizes heat transfer at walls of the vessel 6, which is very advantageous due to the poor heat transfer properties of the infeed plastics material. Pyrolysis gases rise through the direct pipe link 12 to the contactor 7. In the contactor 7 there is contact between the vapour and the metal plates 13 in a staggered baffle-like arrangement. This causes some condensation of the vapour long C chains. The proportion of gases which are condensed in this manner is approximately 15% to 20%. The level of condensation can be controlled by control of the temperature of the jacket 7(a), which is cooled by chilled water and also by control of flue down-draught.

The condensed liquid runs back through the same pipe 12 to the pyrolysis chamber 10 to be thermally degraded. The bottom of the contactor 6, as shown in the expanded view of Fig. 1 , is funnel-shaped to accommodate this flow. This process is referred to in this specification as thermal degradation. It avoids need for catalytic cracking as is performed in the prior art. The thermal degradation of the invention is achieved in a very simple manner, by simply allowing the pyrolysis gases to rise through the pipe 12 into the contactor 7 and for the longer/heavier chains to condense on the baffle plates 13 and from there to run back for further pyrolysis. It is our understanding that this mechanism avoids need for catalytic cracking because the contactors 7 ensure that the heavy/long carbon chains do not pass through the system but are broken down further in the contactors or fall back into the pyrolysis vessel for further degradation. Without them, very heavy material (half way between plastic and liquid fuel) will pass through the system, giving a large proportion of syngas. The baffle plates 13 provide an arduous path with a long residence time, and their apertures allow passage of the upwardly-flowing pyrolysis gases.

It is envisaged that the plates may incorporate active cooling by being part of a heat exchanger. Such cooling could be controlled to fine- tune the grade of end-product diesel obtained. Importantly, the thermal degradation avoids need for catalysts, which would be expensive, require replacement, and may be consumed in the process. The prior art catalyst waste material is often hazardous, resulting in expensive disposal Also, the prior processes involving catalysts are much more complicated and have tighter operating conditions.

An advantageous aspect of the contactor operation is that the valves 1 1 are used to cool down the contactors by allowing down-draught from the flue into the surrounding jacket. This is in contrast to the prior catalytic cracking approach, in which efforts are made to heat the catalysts as much as possible. We have found that by providing the valves 1 1 with access to the flue we have a very simple and effective mechanism for cooling the contactor. The temperature control of the contactors 7 is achieved by opening and closing the flue valves 1 1 , opening a contactor tower flue valve 1 1 cools the contactor due to the chimney down-draught effect. Also, cooling of the contactors takes place by controlling water flow through water pipes running through the contactor jackets 7(a)..

The vapour at 250[deg.]C to 300[deg.]C and most preferably at 260[deg.]C to 280[deg.]C is fed into the first distillation column 20. The sump at the bottom of the column 20 has re-circulation through the pump 21 and the cooler 22 and the temperature is maintained as close as possible to 220[deg.]C in this part of the column 20.

By appropriate operation of valves, diesel is drawn from the sump of the column 20 into the tank 23 and from there to the vacuum distillation column 26. On-spec diesel is provided from the vacuum distillation column 26 to the product tank 37. The vacuum distillation column 26 allows operation at much lower temperatures and is smaller, while achieving equivalent results to an atmospheric distillation column.

The top part of the first distillation column 20 is maintained as close as possible to 100[deg.]C. Light oil is drawn directly to the tank 41. This is a by-product, but may be used to power a low- compression engine to power the plant or to generate electrical power for the grid.

There is also a feed of light oil to the tank 41 from the top of the vacuum distillation column 26 via the tank 45 and the pump 46. It has been found that the first distillation column 20 has about 20% light oil output and the vacuum column 26 has about 10% light oil output. The gas scrubber 72 washes and prepares the synthetic gases for use in the furnaces for the pyrolysis chamber (process is parasitic), and waste water is delivered for treatment. Diesel is drawn from the bottom section of the first distillation column 20 to the holding tank 23 from which it is fed via the heater 25 to the vacuum tower 26. Heavy oil is drawn from the bottom section of the vacuum tower 26 and is used as a supply for the pyrolysis chambers, suitably heated by the wax heater 28. The main product, diesel, is drawn from the middle section of the vacuum column 26 via the cooler 36 to the product tank 37.

Regarding the components 70, 71 , and 72 linked with the top of the first distillation column 20, synthetic gases are taken off the top of the column 20. The cooler 70 draws from the top of the column 20 to the knock-out pot 71 , which separates water, oil, and non-condensable gases, in turn feeding a gas scrubber 72 to prepare synthetic gases for use in furnaces. There is feedback from the knock-out pot 71 to the top of the column 20. Levels are automatically controlled.

As a batch ends, increased load on the pyrolysis chamber agitator indicates that char drying is taking place, and that the process is ending. Rather than purge the full system with N2, risking the N2 carrying char through the full system, N2 is purged via the conduits 10 through the contactors 7 and the pyrolysis chambers 6 only. Resulting vapour is drawn off from above the contactors 7 and is burned off in a thermal oxidizer. This allows the system to continue without being distorted and isolates mechanical removal of the char. The pyrolysis chambers 6 are purged with nitrogen which passes up through the contactor 6 and out the top directly to thermal oxidisers to flush any remaining hydrocarbons. This ensures a safe char removal sequence. During this phase the pyrolysis vessel 6 and contactor 7 have been isolated from the rest of the system. This reduces process time and prevents char from being carried through the system and fouling components such as the fuel lines and pumps. It has been found that this provides improved stability in the process by avoiding risk of contamination of downstream components with char particles. It also reduces the purging time.

The double helical agitator blades are operated in reverse to remove char during purging. This char removal process can be performed continuously, if desired. The char leaves the pot by opening a large valve at the base of the pyrolysis vessel 6. Under the pyrolysis vessel is a negatively charged pot which initially draws the char into it. The agitator is designed at the base such that when it operates in the reverse direction to that during processing it sweeps the char into the centre of the vessel and the agitator screw pushes the char down into a char pot. Once cooled, the char is vacuumed into a char vessel for removal from site.

The pyrolysis chamber jacket is heated to c. 590[deg.]C so that there is further drying of the char for about 4 hours.

Although not illustrated, each pyrolysis chamber 6 has a detector for determining content of the chamber for control purposes. The detector comprises a gamma radiation source on one side and a receiver along the opposed side. The intensity of radiation detection on the receiving side provides an indication of level in the chamber 6. A major advantage is that the emitter and the receiver are mounted on the outside of the chamber 6, and so are totally non-invasive. The emitted gamma radiation is attenuated as it passes through the chamber 6, the intensity detected at the receiver being an indication of the density of contents of the chamber 6.

Referring to Fig. 2 various parameters for the system are monitored for effective system control. It shows that as the agitator load increases (in this example at about 14.30 hours) when char drying is taking place. It also shows that the bottom of the first distillation column 20 stays approximately constant, even between batches, due to operation of a heater.

It will also be appreciated that the contactor 7 outlet temperature can rise above optimum towards the end of the batch.

It has been found that the process as described above provides a high quality diesel product in the tank 37, meeting the EN590 European standards. The other major on-spec fuel is BS2869 for kerosene. The invention is not limited to the embodiments described but may be varied in construction and detail. For example, there may be a cooler at the contactor 7 outlet to maintain a vapour outlet temperature in the desired range. Also, there may be additional active cooling of the contactors 7, such as by chilled water circulation in a jacket around the contactor plates, or indeed by an arrangement in which the contactor has an active heat exchanger in direct contact with the pyrolysis gases. Such a heat exchanger may replace some or all of the baffle plates described above. This cooler may for example work with oil which is passed through the cooler at the target temperature. Chilled water may be used to control the oil temperature. The cooling system may also include a liquid knockout pot for return of heavier chains to the pyrolysis chambers 6 for further cracking. It has been found that maintenance of the vapour temperature at this level at the outlet of the contactor 7 is particularly advantageous for achieving the desired grade of fuel products.





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