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Process Engineered Fuels (densified fuels) have frequently been criticized as being too costly to be a major player for renewable fuels. Much of this criticism originated from some early plants that were hastily constructed in the late 1970s during the first oil crisis. They suffered from poor planning and full understanding of what it took to compete with liquid fossil fuels when oil prices returned to normal. Plants that did have the foresight and knowledge to compete during normal timeshave survived to become role models for those seriously interested in renewable, economical and clean fuels for the future. Some veteran firms have successfully shown themselves capable of competing directly with liquid fossil fuels. They have each passed the tests of time and quality. They produce a viable fuel that is now called PEF(Processed Engineered Fuels). By the definition established by the Pellet Fuels Institute, these fuels are produced from waste products, are pelleted, are environmentally clean and have been designed to be traded as a commodity.

This paper discusses PEF as a modern source of energy.


Plastics are derived from petroleum and natural gas and have a very high energy content. Today, there is increased interest in using segregated post-use plastics and paper in industrial fuel applications. This recovery option complements conventional mechanical recycling and feedstock recycling of plastics and differs from traditional waste-to-energy. When post-use paper and plastics derived from residential, commercial, and industrial sources are used as an industrial fuel, they are in the form of a manufactured product called Process Engineered Fuel or PEF. The conventional PEF produced today contains 70-90% paper and the remaining percentage is plastic. PEF is not waste, but a marketable product that must meet strict end-user requirements for a solid fuel. PEF is an important component of integrated material recovery and resource conservation, not a waste disposal method.

The power generation and municipal solid waste management industries share an interest in the use of Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) comprised mainly of paper and plastics as a supplement to conventional fuels. Many materials discarded into the waste stream are not recycled using traditional approaches because it is not technically or economically viable. Increased recovery of these materials into fuel could significantly reduce the nation's dependence on landfill disposal while also decreasing the use of fossil or other types of conventional fuels. PEF is often burned in existing boilers as a supplemental fuel, making PEF systems an alternative to traditional waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities.


Processed-engineered fuels (PEF), also known as pellet fuels, are produced from a mixture of plastic and other scrap materials recovered from the industrial and/or commercial waste stream. The amount of plastic can vary to yield a pellet fuel possessing the desired combustion characteristics. PEF is designed to provide highly predictable and uniform combustion characteristics. The use of paper that can't be recycled from post-consumer, post-commercial and post-industrial sources, Plastics not suited for economically and environmentally sound recovery for recycling should be included on the list of approved materials for manufacturing PEF or Plastics Derived Fuels (PDF). The energy value of plastics as a resource can thus be recovered.


One driver for the use of post-use paper and plastics as alternative fuels, for example, to supplement coal or wood for the production of steam or electricity, is worldwide public and private sector interest in expanding the environmentally and economically responsible and sustainable recovery of post-use paper and plastics. A second driver is the need among industrial, institutional, and utility fuel users in the United States to lower fuel costs, as the retail power...
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