The proposed facility would use innovative technology to address two significant environmental problems facing society – firstly what to do with plastic waste that cannot be reused or recycled and secondly how to decarbonise energy and transport sectors.
Using DMG® (Distributed Modular Gasification); an advanced thermal treatment technology developed by Powerhouse Energy – it will produce a local source of hydrogen from unrecyclable plastics. This clean and low-cost hydrogen could then be used to initially power buses and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) in the region, before being rolled out to hydrogen cars, helping to reduce air pollution and improve air quality on our roads.
The £7m plant will treat up to 25 tonnes of waste plastics a day that would otherwise go to landfill or incineration. This will be the first commercial scale project in the UK, with the technology having been developed by Powerhouse Energy over several years at the University of Chester Energy Centre next door to Protos. In addition to the production of decentralised hydrogen the plant will also generate electricity, which could be supplied to businesses located at Protos via the private network.
Waste2Tricity is currently in discussions with suppliers of unrecyclable plastics across the region, including companies that could locate at the Protos site. The development would see a further 25 full time permanent jobs created at the Protos site with over 100 jobs created in the North West during fabrication and construction.
Myles Kitcher from Peel Environmental said: "We have a huge problem with waste plastic in the UK – almost 1.2 million tonnes goes to landfill every year. Working in partnership with Waste2Tricity we are developing a closed loop solution where plastics are brought to Protos and recycled on-site with the leftover material used to create hydrogen instead of ending up in landfill. This project really sums up what Protos is about – using innovative technologies to create value from waste, recover resources and provide low carbon energy sources which then can be used on site.
"Not only will this help tackle the problem of waste plastics, it will provide a local source of hydrogen which could be used as a clean and low cost fuel for buses, HGVs and eventually cars, helping to reduce air pollution and improve air quality on our roads. The hydrogen revolution is taking place now in the North West and this project shows how we're leading the way."
John Hall from Waste2Tricity said: "This will be the first of many waste to hydrogen projects for Waste2Tricity in the UK and overseas. The Protos site is ideally located in a strategic position in England's North West where we have access not only to unrecyclable plastics but also a concentration of energy intensive industries. The beauty of Protos is that it can provide everything we need in one place."
David Ryan, CEO of PowerHouse Energy, said: "We're delighted to be delivering our first commercial scale plant in the UK. We've been on site at the University of Chester Energy Centre, next door to Protos, for several years and it's great to see the project come to fruition. Our technology is a sustainable solution for dealing with plastics that would otherwise end up in landfill, and because we're generating hydrogen it's much more efficient than other Energy from Waste processes. The theoretical basis of this technology is nothing new, some components have been around for over 100 years, we're just applying it in an innovative solution."
Following consultation, a planning application for the development is expected to be submitted in Summer 2019 with a decision from Cheshire West & Chester Council expected by the end of the year.
This is one of many hydrogen projects taking place in the region with Peel Environmental a founding member of the North West Hydrogen Alliance. The company is also part of the North West Energy and Hydrogen Cluster – a partnership of companies, regional leaders and network of academic experts under the North West Business Leadership team – that recently came together to meet the challenge of becoming the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030.