West Dunbartonshire Council has given the green light to plans for a £20 million facility that will turn used plastic into hydrogen and help the UK make the switch to a cleaner energy source.

The 13,500-tonne facility from Peel NRE, which is part of Peel L&P, is the second of its kind in the UK. It will use Powerhouse Energy technology to create a local source of sustainable hydrogen from non-recyclable plastics that were going to be dumped, burned, or sent overseas.

The £20 million, 15-month building project at Rothesay Dock on the north bank of the River Clyde in West Dunbartonshire follows the approval of a similar site at Peel NRE’s Protos energy and resource hub near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, where construction is set to begin before the end of 2022.

It also comes after the government doubled its goal for making hydrogen by 2030 as part of the recently released Energy Security Strategy. This is so that Britain can make more clean, cheap energy as energy prices around the world continue to rise.

Zero Waste Scotland says that Scotland makes about 500,000 tonnes of waste plastic every year, and research done for Peel NRE shows that about 300,000 tonnes of that is just in the central belt of Scotland.

Powerhouse’s plastic-to-hydrogen technology shreds the waste and puts it into a thermal conversion chamber, where it is heated to high temperatures, melts in seconds, and turns into a gas mixture. When the molecules are heated more, they change into “syngas,” which is a mixture of methane, hydrogen, and a small amount of carbon monoxide.

A small amount of this energy-rich gas is used to heat the thermal conversion chamber. The rest of the gas is used to make electricity and clean hydrogen, which will be used as a clean fuel for HGVs, buses, and cars. Plans are in the works for an on-site hydrogen refueling station that will be linked to the station.

Peel NRE and Powerhouse Energy Group have signed a deal to work together to build 11 waste plastic-to-hydrogen facilities in the UK over the next few years. Peel NRE also has the option of getting exclusive rights to build a total of 70 facilities.

Richard Barker, who is in charge of development at Peel NRE, says that Scotland’s first plastic-to-hydrogen facility will solve the “dual challenge” of getting rid of waste plastic and making hydrogen, while also giving future generations a fuel that won’t run out.

“Whilst the focus must remain on removing plastic from society, there are still end of life plastics that need managing,” he explained. “The £20m plant will play a pivotal role in making the best use of non-recyclable material, with the resulting hydrogen able to help cut carbon emissions from vehicles.”

Paul Drennan-Durose, the CEO of Powerhouse Energy, said that the planning permission from West Dunbartonshire Council was a “key landmark” in the tech rollout of the company.

“It’ll help deliver a low carbon alternative to diesel vehicles, responding to both Scottish and UK Government missions to decarbonise our communities and economy,” he said.

Source: UtilityWeek

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