Tallinn University of Technology

Virumaa college researchers will present a study at the EuroScience Open Forum, Europe's largest scientific forum, on how to prepare source materials for other branches of the chemical industry when co-processing oil shale with organic materials such as plastic waste, scrap, tire chips, foam rubber, artificial turf or wind turbine blades.

A pyrolysis process suitable for oil shale is used to recycle plastic waste, i.e. heating the material in a closed retort without air access.

For this purpose, a special pyrolysis process suitable for oil shale developed in Estonia is used, i.e. heating the material in a closed retort without air access. In co-pyrolysis gas, oil, solid residue, or semi-coke are produced, all of which can find practical use in the energy, chemical, or building materials industries.

What makes the development project special is that the co-pyrolysis of oil shale and waste can now be applied industrially in the Estonian oil shale industry, and no new equipment is required. Materials used in co-pyrolysis, as a rule, do not need pre-sorting, cleaning, or washing, which makes this method effective and non-consuming additional energy.

Co-pyrolysis studies received recognition for the best development work of the Tallinn University of Technology in 2021. Member of the evaluation jury, vice-rector for entrepreneurship Sven Illing praised the development and its great potential for the Estonian industry. Hella Riisalu, the senior researcher at the Oil Shale Competence Centre at Virumaa College, noted that the whole group is very satisfied with the results of the work, as it is progress in the circular economy. "In addition, the whole study is the basis for the real implementation of the principles of both the green transition and the circular economy in cooperation with the oil shale industry and other sectors, using existing technology," noted Riisalu.

On June 30, 2022, Olga Pihl, head of the research group of the Fuels Technology Laboratory at Virumaa college, successfully defended the scientific work "Co-pyrolysis of Estonian oil shale with polymer waste". The research is carried out within the framework of the project "Valuing oil shale (products) and expanding the field of activity of the Oil Shale Competence Centre" funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund.

Professor Allan Niidu, Ph.D. thesis supervisor, and Olga Pihl will present the results of the research and development project on co-pyrolysis of polymeric waste in the Estonian booth at the EuroScience Open Forum, Europe's largest research forum, already on 14 July 2022.