Tallinn University of Technology

A new test facility which can more accurately test how materials decompose at high temperatures has been installed in Oil Shale Competence Center of Virumaa College of Tallinn University of Technology.

Plastic waste, used tires, wood and other biomass can be used as raw materials in the test facility along with oil shale. In the pyrolysis process, the materials are heated without air access, and the oil obtained as one of the components is mainly used as fuel, but also in the chemical industry. The processing of materials in the new facility takes a few minutes, and this process is close to the technologies used in the Estonian oil shale industry.

"With the new installation, we will be able to focus more on applied research and further development of methods for utility treatment of different materials," explained Olga Pihl, head of the laboratory of the Competence Center. She added that one way to recycle the waste is to decompose it by gasification and retorting and use it in new products. In co-pyrolysis, where, for example, tire or plastic waste is introduced next to or instead of oil shale, the technologies used today in the oil shale industry can be applied to promote a circular economy. "The new installation is significantly more similar to the solid heat carrier technology used by all Estonian shale oil producers," said Pihl.

"The use of the unique installation strengthens the competitiveness of our center on the international market, both for recycling waste and for the exploration of oil shale deposits," explained Kalle Pirk, head of the Competence Center. Pirk noted that the Competence Center has previous experience and a utility model-protected invention for co-pyrolysis of plastic waste, which has also attracted international interest. In addition to plastic waste, a collaboration was established with Eesti Energia in the field of research on the utility treatment of used tires.

The test bench was made jointly with ENTEH Engineering AS and the Joint Institute for High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The making of the installation was financed with the support of the European Regional Development Fund within the framework of the project "Increasing the value of oil shale (products) and expanding the scope of activities  of the Oil Shale Competence Center".

Additional information: Kalle Pirk, phone: +372 502 4714, kalle.pirk@taltech.ee