A technology company aiming to produce hydrogen from unrecyclable plastic waste has won a £1.25m ($1.64m) grant for its first commercial plant, to be built in northwest England.

Waste2tricity will use the funds to construct the facility’s thermal conversion chamber, a key component of the Distributed Modular Generation (DMG) system developed by its partner, AIM-listed waste-to-energy group PowerHouse Energy (PHE) — which is, incidentially, in the process of acquiring Waste2Tricity.

The DMG process works by heating plastic waste (or old tyres) to temperatures of more than 850°C, which not only melts the plastic, but turns the molten plastic into syngas — a mixture of methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then separated for later use, and the remaining gases are cleaned and burned to produce electricity, with waste heat also available for local distribution.

The £7m plant near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, which Waste2tricity is developing with infrastructure company Peel Environmental, will be able to process 35 tonnes of plastic waste and produce up to two tonnes of hydrogen per day, while generating 3.8MW of electricity (of which 3.4MW will be exported).

It is set to be the first of at least 11 DMG plants to be built in the UK as part of a £130m collaboration between Peel and PHE.

The £1.25m award came from the £4.1m Energy Fund of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, a non-profit organisation operated by local authorities and businesses. It is conditional on the facility winning planning permission later this year.

Waste2tricity chairman Tim Yeo — the influential former UK environment minister — said: “This grant offer recognises the importance of the PHE DMG technology and the impact it may have on assisting Cheshire and Warrington and potentially the country to the target of net zero emissions — through the creation of hydrogen fuel from waste plastic.”