Eni and COREPLA collaborate on plastic waste-to-hydrogen research

Eni and COREPLA collaborate on plastic waste-to-hydrogen research

March 13, 2019
Marcia González

New deal relates to the initiation of research projects to produce hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic packaging waste

The Italian oil and gas company Eni has penned an agreement with Italy’s COREPLA, the National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling and Recovery of Plastic Packaging, to explore the potential of producing hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic packaging waste.

Signed by Giuseppe Ricci, Eni chief refining and marketing officer and Antonello Ciotti, president of COREPLA (both of whom are pictured above), the agreement defines the joint working group that will, over the next six months, assess the launching of research projects to produce hydrogen and high-quality biofuels from plastic waste. The working group will analyze how the market of non-mechanically recyclable packaging will evolve in the next few years. They will study the types of waste that can be used to develop a positive, innovative circular economy process and maximize recovery, in line with the European Union’s new directives.

In sorted waste, plastic packaging is separated and sent to be recycled so it can be reused, mostly by transforming it into chips or grains, which then become raw material for creating new products. However, not everything can be recycled. Plasmix is the collective name for the different plastics in used packaging that currently have no use in the market of recycling. Almost all of it goes towards energy recovery, apart from a small fraction that ends up in landfill. As a result of this to the agreement, though, some of it can instead be recycled and transformed into new raw material.

Through this agreement, Eni will strengthen and develop its strategy to apply the principles of the circular economy to its business, based on research and newly developed technologies. Since 2014, as a result of its Ecofining patent, Eni has been producing high-quality biofuels from used cooking and frying oil, animal fat and other non-edible waste, in Porto Marghera, Venice and, in the near future, also in Gela, Sicily.

Hydrogen is an essential part of the production process, as it neutralizes the oxygen in vegetable oil and converts the triglycerides into paraffins and isoparaffins, thereby completely removing the sulphur, nitrogen and polyaromatic hydrocarbons from the biofuel. Another important element of the Eni circular economy is waste to fuel. A pilot plant has been built in Gela to test production of bio-oil and biomethane taken from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW). The results will be crucial in the announced production on an industrial scale at the plants in Ravenna, Porto Marghera and potential other disused industrial sites in Italy and even other countries.

Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2019 will take place from Thursday 27 June to Friday 28 June, at the Kap Europa, Frankfurt Messe, Frankfurt, Germany. To register for this highly focused and solutions-driven event, please click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please email peter@trans-globalevents.com

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