The primary project objective is to research and develop at a pilot scale an integrated process to transform mixed food waste into RH2 and high value forms of carbon that will be economically viable for future market uptake.

Scientific & Technological Objectives:

  • To generate representative biogas from an AD process with a feedstock rate of 1800 tonnes mixed food waste p.a., noting seasonal CH4:CO2 variations and impurity levels versus seasonal input variations over 12 month period. To assess and incorporate an economically viable process to remove trace impurities from biogas to less than 4ppm H2S and less than 6ppm in total. To define the biogas output from anaerobic digestion of representative food waste over a period of twelve months, noting variations in CH4:CO2 yields and purification requirements for input into microwave plasma process. (WP2)
  • To define and validate a microwave plasma process design for biogas generated from the anaerobic digestion of food waste in WP2. To optimise nozzle geometries and gas flows to enable optimal Carbon formation in WP5 from biogas using a 12kW microwave plasma reactor. To investigate the use of pre-separated CO2 to enhance the Carbon formation from the methane. (WP3)
  • To define and validate gas/solid and gas/gas separation unit operations. To develop an optimal process to separate the combined Carbon species and then the renewable hydrogen (RH2) from any other gases present from the gas stream output from WP3. (WP4).
  • To develop a methodology whereby the appropriate size, shape and form of Carbon is generated by the integrated process. The desired form of carbon is graphitic rather than amorphous or glassy. The desired size and shape is that most appropriate to maximise the economic yield of Graphitic carbon, both in the synthesis and the separation processes. This will closely interact with WP3 and WP4. Samples of graphitic carbon (over 10g) will be produced with an economic value of over €2500/tonne. (WP5)
  • To integrate and optimise the outputs of WP2-5. This will involve the integration of the separate unit operations of process plant, along with appropriate process control. The control operations of the integrated plant will then be refined, to enable both local and remote monitoring and control. To integrate a working pilot scale PlasCarb plant, including one AD unit processing 1800 tonnes pa of mixed food waste and at least one 12kW microwave plasma reactor to process a proportion of the biogas generated. (WP6)
  • To operate an integrated plant continuously for a period of at least one month transforming over 150 tonnes of mixed food waste into over 25 thousand m3 of biogas. Over 2400 m3 of this biogas will then be transformed into over 240kg of RH2 and 700kg of highly graphitic Carbon (with a market value of over €2500/tonne), enabling economic validation to be undertaken as part of WP8 and demonstration to the research community, industry and the wider public in WP10. (WP7)
  • To optimise the project results and the economics of all aspects of the technology to enable future market uptake. The OPEX (operating expenditure), CAPEX (capital expenditure) and revenues (determined by end user techno-economic validation of the RH2 and graphitic carbon produced in WP7) will be validated. An optimal business deployment strategy (size and localization) will be prepared. Financial mechanisms that can be applied to different regions of Europe will be selected. To prepare an integrated financial and business package for wider deployment. (WP8)
  • To verify the full environmental, economic & social viability of PlasCarb (WP2 to WP8) using a recognised LCA approach based on ISO14040/44 (2006). To validate the net benefit compared with State of the Art food waste management and sustainable material supply. This will include an evaluation of the regional and political waste management strategies from across Europe. To verify the technology development as being BAT using the EU Environmental Technology Verification pre-programme. (WP9)