Tallinn University of Technology

Before the Independence Day of the Republic of Estonia, Tallinn University of Technology recognised the best works of the year. The best development work of 2021 focused on the co-processing of oil shale with other organic materials and studying the characteristics of the products obtained, in order to create a new high-value-added industry that is based on a circular economy. 

Aasta 2021 parim arendustöö

The aim of the development is to produce raw materials for the future, mainly for the clothing and plastics industries. 

Co-pyrolysis of plastic waste

Applied research in the co-processing of oil shale and plastic waste has already led to revolutionary changes in the oil shale industry. The solid heat carrier technology used in Estonia allows the possibility to pyrolyse scrap and plastic waste together with shale. In this way, it is possible to reduce the use of oil shale and, at the same time, produce useful raw materials from waste that has thus far been incinerated or landfilled.

The winning project gives a novel solution for the production of oil from residual plastics and their mixtures, which until now have only been incinerated, by co-processing them with oil shale (especially commercial oil shale) in a solid heat carrier technology.

Research group pleased with the result

Hella Riisalu, Senior Research Scientist of Virumaa College, member of the research group of the research and testing laboratory of Oil Shale Competence Center, noted that the whole group is very pleased with the results of the work, as this means progress in the field of circular economy, which is important for the economy and the environment. "What surprised us was the large amount of basic research conducted in the field and some of the success stories in its implementation," she added.  

Riisalu considers the most important aspect of this development work to be the fact that the applied research created both a realistic basis for further pilot tests and a methodological scheme for further studies on the co-pyrolysis of different materials. "In addition, the entire study will serve as a basis for a realistic implementation of both the green transition and the principles of the circular economy in the oil shale industry and its cooperation with other sectors, using the potential of already existing technologies."

Sven Illing, Vice-Rector for Entrepreneurship at TalTech and a member of the evaluation jury, praised the developmental work. "The biggest research conducted. Great potential for the industry of Estonia!"

Who was part of the development team? 

The development work "Co-processing of oil shale and other organic materials and a study of the characteristics of the products obtained" was conducted by the research group of the TalTech Virumaa College Oil Shale Competence Center consisting of Olga Pihl (Head of Laboratory), Hella Riisalu (Senior Research Scientist), Larisa Grigorieva (research scientist), Dmitri Suštšik (chemical engineer), Larissa Kruglenkova (chemical engineer), Julia Kravetskaja (chemical engineer), Viktoria Petrova (chemical engineer), Nadežda Merkulova (specialist) and Kai-Liis Vesper (laboratory technician). 

Tallinn University of Technology recognised the most outstanding scientists, research articles, and projects of the past year at a ceremony held on 22 February in celebration of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.