VUCHT a.s, the research and engineering arm of Dulso a.s. a major Slovak producer of fertilizers, specialty nitrogen compounds, and rubber chemicals and Switzerland-headed specialty chemicals major Clariant AG has successfully converted waste plastic into synthetic diesel. Using a proprietary technique and Clariant’s HYDEX E next-generation hydro-dewaxing catalyst, VUCHT has successfully converted plastic waste into premium winter fuel distillate at a pilot plant in Slovakia.
As plastics and fuels are both mainly composed of natural gas or crude oil, turning one into the other has major implications for sustainable and lucrative fuel production. The efficacy of this groundbreaking process has now been proven in a pilot plant in Slovakia.
Upgrading gas oil fractions to more valuable products has become essential for improving refinery economics. Clariant is committed to supporting this customer need through innovations such as HYDEX E. We are honored to partner with VUCHT in their pioneering plastic waste-to-winter diesel technology, and very pleased about the outstanding performance of our next-generation catalyst in the process, said Stefan Heuser, SVP and General Manager at Clariant Catalysts.
VUCHT uses a pyrolysis process to convert a variety of plastic waste collected in Slovakia including polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into synthetic diesel fuel.
The process thermally degrades the plastic at temperatures above 300°C (530°F), converting it into liquid oil comprised of various hydrocarbon compounds. Recently, the institute developed a proprietary technique to further convert the liquid oil into a high-quality fuel distillate known as winter diesel.
The winter diesel produced is compliant with Euro 6 fuel emission standards, including cold flow properties specified for temperatures as low as -30°F (-34°C), typically required in Arctic regions.
To achieve this extreme improvement in cold flow, Clariant’s HYDEX E hydro-dewaxing catalyst was applied.
Scaling up to near-plant capacity was the ultimate test of the practicality and profitability of our proprietary diesel production process, and we are extremely satisfied with the results of our team’s innovations. This could not have been achieved without a partner such as Clariant, whose new dewaxing catalyst has delivered beyond expectations, said Branislav Brežný, Managing Director, VUCHT.
Plans for a demonstration plant
After intensive pilot testing proved the technical viability and economic appeal of the process, VUCHT is planning to expand the method’s success in a custom-built demonstration plant with a fuel distillate capacity of 40 tonnes per annum.
According to Clariant, its HYDEX E is an economical selective isomerization hydro-dewaxing catalyst specially developed for highly paraffinic feedstocks. The key advantages of this zeolite-based catalyst are that it has the ability to significantly raise fuel quality and yield while minimizing costs and by-product formation.
HYDEX catalysts have been successfully used for catalytic dewaxing at numerous refineries around the world for over 25 years, and are recognized to be highly favorable for middle distillate feedstocks, such as diesel.