Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 10-11-2021

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

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-Unlocking the potential of chemical recycling

In October  Chemical Recycling Europe appointed John Sewell as its new Secretary General. We spoke with John to get his thoughts on the biggest challenges facing his industry, as well as his responses to some of the criticisms that are often levelled at it.

To start us off, could you introduce yourself, talk a bit about your background, and tell us more about your new role?

I was educated as a chemical engineer, and have been working in the plastics industry for thirty years. I started in process R&D working in a pilot plant for Dow Chemical USA in Freeport TX. After some years I moved to Europe and joined Neste Chemicals which later became Borealis. I began my European career implementing the forerunner polyolefin production technology to what is today Borstar. I moved on to product development, technical service and business development.

I joined AspenTech in 2000 as market director chemicals in EMEA providing engineering design, process control and production management and supply chain management solutions to the chemical industry (mainly polymers). In recent years I have licensed thermoplastic honeycomb core technology to automotive, reusable transport packaging, building and construction, and commercial transportation.

All this said, the importance and value of plastics in our modern world is clear to me. Also clear to me are the challenges presented by the leakage plastic to the environment, the need to shift to lower carbon footprint outcomes for plastic “waste” where possible, and the work needed to implement circularity in the plastics value chain.

Chemical recycling is essential for implementing circularity in the plastics value chain and for meeting the recycling targets ahead of us in 2025, 2030, and beyond. These are very important times for the chemical recycling industry and the plastics value chain. I am pleased to be a part of this and embrace my role of Secretary General for Chemical Recycling Europe with full gusto.

What have you identified as they key challenges you’ll be confronting in your new role?

The need to build up capacity in order to meet the recycling targets set in Europe and to satisfy the market demand for recycled content in plastic products is a big one. Here in Europe these days, on a near-daily basis, there are significant developments in chemical recycling, be it on the policy front, the technologies, on the communication front, and on the capacity landscape. Over the past few weeks alone there have been several announcements in various forums regarding new plants to be built and new partnerships along the value chain.

Implementing proven methodologies to enable the robust adoption of circularity in the plastics value chain is also key. The mass-balance approach, proven for the adoption of “green energy”, for example, accounting for the energy from renewable sources while sharing the same grid as those used for fossil-based energy.

The same methodolgy for chemical recycling is essential to bring circularity to plastics, reduce carbon footprint, replace fossil-based plastic, and contribute to reducing the amount of plastic leakage to the environment. I will point you to the  mass-balance position paper that Chemical Recycling Europe just published.

Communicating the value of chemical recycling to all stakeholders is another important challenge. On the one hand, we endeavor to help in solving a problem that is in front of us all, the problem of plastic leakage into the environment. On the other, we are implementing technologies that have complexity, and this can make the communication of their value and importance a real challenge. Chemical Recycling Europe is working on this, and you can expect something more from us in the coming weeks and months to help di-mystify the technology and effectively communicate its value.

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

-Nonwoven fabric from 100% textile waste

A collaboration between Suominen and Infinited Fiber Company has resulted in a nonwoven sheet made from 100% textile waste.

The sheet is made with Infinited Fiber Company’s regenerated fibre Infinna, which is biodegradable, plastic-free fibre and made from discarded cotton-rich textiles, making it a resource-efficient alternative to the conventional materials used in single-use nonwovens, such as polyester and viscose.

Suominen’s President and CEO Petri Helsky said the fabric was developed through collaborative R&D efforts by Suominen and Infinited, whose shared values include sustainability and circularity. “Suominen aims to differentiate with innovation and sustainability,” he said. “We see high potential in using recycled materials and are very excited to be able to support and participate in the development of Infinna for nonwoven applications.” Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

Infinited Fiber Company co-founder and CEO Petri Alava added: “Introducing materials that are made from resources that already exist – like discarded textiles – is a way of bringing circularity to the single-use nonwovens market. The material we have created with Suominen demonstrates a more sustainable future for nonwovens, and we look forward to continuing our close collaboration and co-development work in the years ahead.”

The nonwoven sheet co-created by the two Finnish companies points to the goals of biodegradability and plastic-free.

Nonwoven fabric from 100% textile waste

-Arburg places additive manufacturing activities under one roof

German injection moulding machine maker Arburg GmbH + Co KG has founded a new subsidiary: Arburgadditive GmbH + Co KG. Also based at its headquarters in Lossburg, it will house all of the company’s activities related to additive manufacturing. The Managing Director will be Dr Victor Roman, who is set to join the company on 1 December 2021.

In founding its new company, Arburg says it is highlighting the significance and future potential that it believes additive manufacturing holds as a key supplementary production method in plastic processing. Following the invention and launch of the Freeformer, plus the purchase of innovatiQ, the logical next step was to combine the full range of additive manufacturing activities under one roof with the aim of strengthening this business field and paving a path towards a successful future. Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 

Dr Victor Roman, 52, studied mechanical engineering and physics before working at an international technology group for more than two decades, a role that gave him extensive experience in development, sales and additive manufacturing.

Over the course of 2022, Arburg Plastic Freeforming will switch entirely over to the new company. This division now has around 40 employees working in sales, development, application technology and assembly. innovatiQ GmbH + Co KG, which currently employs approximately 25 staff members, will remain an independent company based in Feldkirchen, near Munich, but will be affiliated with Arburgadditive GmbH + Co KG. innovatiQ Managing Director Florian Bautz will in future report to Dr Victor Roman.

The product range includes the Freeformer and innovatiQ’s 3D systems. The Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) process with the Freeformer, has been designed to act as an open system, making it possible to adjust the component manufacturing process in line with specific requirements. The process uses verified standard granulates of the kind found in injection moulding. The innovatiQ 3D printing systems operate on the basis of FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) technology. There is also the LiQ 320 printing system, which processes liquid silicone rubber (LSR) in a special LAM (Liquid Additive Manufacturing) procedure.

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

-The right recycling method for all plastics

Not all recycling is created equal. While chemical recycling is the best option for food packaging and medical products, many plastics can also be recycled using mechanical recycling. The common goal for every method: Turn plastic waste into a valuable resource and keep plastics in the loop – think Circular Economy. Günter Stephan is on hand to explain what makes mechanical recycling special and how it works.

“Plastic is too valuable to dispose of after use. And that’s why we give it a second life”, says Günter Stephan, responsible for mechanical plastics recycling at OMV subsidiary Borealis. Borealis is a leader in this sector. “Back in 2014, we got together with the automotive industry to start producing plastic from recycled car bumpers that is then used to make new car bumpers”, he recalls. “But the plastic waste problem is first and foremost a packaging problem”. That is why, in 2016, Borealis invested in a mechanical recycling plant – incidentally becoming the first plastics producer to do so – a plant that also recycles plastic waste from households. Today Borealis operates three mechanical recycling plants:  mtm plasticsEcoplast and a pilot plant for innovative sorting in Lahnstein, Germany.

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 

Plastic waste as a raw material: This is how mechanical recycling works

“The principle is simple: Waste is sorted, shredded, cleaned and melted into tiny balls that can then be processed into new plastics”, is how Günter Stephan puts it in a nutshell. But it is trickier in practice. “Household waste is more difficult to recycle as on the one hand it comes from many different locations, namely homes. On the other hand, the waste consists of different types of plastic like PVC, PET, polypropylene, polyethylene, and it is usually dirty as well”. So, it not only requires a lot of effort in terms of logistics, but it’s especially challenging when it comes to sorting and cleaning.

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

-US’ Evrnu raises $15 million funding for NuCycl Fibre Regeneration

Evrnu has announced the raising of $15 million Series B financing to scale and meet the surging demand for its fibre regeneration platform, NuCycl, as a solution to the textile waste crisis. The round was led by FullCycle Climate Partners, which will also serve as a significant project financing partner. Evrnu is a US-based textile innovations company.

Globally diversified supply chain partners and brands are also joining the round as co-investors including Hansae, Bestseller, and PDS Venture, PDS Multinational Fashions’ venture tech portfolio. The strategic financing will be used to expand Evrnu’s facilities and operations in South Carolina and service high volumes of NuCycl fibres to the fashion industry. It will also enable key, strategic hires in growth functions and technical roles as Evrnu expedites global deployment of NuCycl to meet the scale required to alleviate dependency on virgin resources and create material emissions reductions throughout the fashion value chain, Evrnu said in a press release.

Evrnu’s breakthrough technologies create a pathway to insert the tens of millions of tons of textile waste that end up in landfills or incinerators every year back into the value chain. The NuCycl platform depolymerises textile waste and repolymerises it into pristine fibres that are on par or higher quality than the inputs and can be recycled multiple times, an unlock for textile recycling. Having developed the technologies to address the recycling of 90 per cent+ of all apparel, with one patent granted and several others pending, Evrnu is on course to deploy technologies that allow for all textiles to be successfully recycled by 2030. Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 

Enabled with this financing, Evrnu will be rolling out each technology in partnership with global supply chain partners to meet the needs of this emerging market and scale required for material impact. Evrnu has advanced R&D contracts under way, in fashion, as well as in new markets, such as home furnishings and automotive.

“Over the last few years, we have iterated and fine-tuned NuCycl technologies to meet and exceed the quality and performance demands of the luxury industry. We are now proving these technologies at scale, with short-term plans for global expansion,” Stacy Flynn, CEO and co-founder of Evrnu said in a statement.

“Brands know that they need to materially address their emissions and that their customers are watching and demanding that they do better

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

-Polyester: downstream buyers waiting for opportunity to buying dip

Downstream fabric mills witnessed apparently falling stocks and improving profit in Sep-Oct impacted by diversified supply and demand when the consumption of energy was limited and downstream demand grew. Some fabric traders and apparel producers placed orders in panic as domestic seasonal demand was moderate in Sep-Oct, the purchasing cost of fabric surged and the delivery took apparently longer time, worrying fabric price to continue rising and the Dual Control of energy consumption to last into end-2021.

Downstream buyers have presented obviously weaker purchasing interest since late-Oct when the regulation of electricity consumption eased in Zhejiang and Jiangsu and upstream feedstock price plunged. Fabric mills received limited new orders recently and some even did not have any orders due to the following 3 reasons: firstly, fabric traders worried price to collapse. Secondly, supply recovered in fabric mills and printing and dyeing plants with mitigated regulation of energy consumption. Thirdly, the intensive order placement for the online shopping spree in Nov has been ended. Some oral orders have been canceled. Offers for grey fabric softened rapidly with alleviated regulation of energy consumption and rapidly reducing feedstock prices. Taking nylon taffeta, which was very tight earlier, as an example, it could be sold under 5.5yuan/meter but has decreased by 30% to 3.8yuan/meter. Spot supply of nylon taffeta has started increasing.

Downstream players, who were the biggest benefit in Sep-Oct with the regulation of energy consumption and rising prices, did not face pressure temporarily. Stocks of fabric were very high in end-Aug and early-Sep but have reduced a lot. With alleviated regulation of energy consumption,operating rate increased again and end-user demand marginally weakened. That meant stocks of grey fabrics tend to accumulate again, which is rising slowly now. According to the survey made by CCFGroup, orders of downstream plants can mainly guarantee the production until mid-Nov or even into end-Nov. Therefore, inventory of grey fabric may start mounting until mid-Nov.

Fabric mills and twisting units do not face big burden now but most are cautious in purchasing PFY, mostly to cover the most pressing demand amid high PFY price. Buyers showed low buying interest even when price of PFY was discounted by 1,000yuan/mt, expecting PFY price to have downward risk amid high cash flow. Fabric traders and fabric producers mainly retreat to sideline. Therefore, sales of PFY and orders of fabrics are meager. Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

-Belgium-Chile deal to boost cheap EU green hydrogen supply

A new agreement between the Belgian ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge with the Chilean energy ministry could supply Europe with green hydrogen at €1.10/kg, 10% of current baseload hydrogen prices.

The agreement, signed at COP26 in Glasgow on 4 November, commits the two ports and the Chilean Ministry of Energy to develop green hydrogen trade between Chile and Western Europe.

Low-cost Green Hydrogen

Chile’s energy and mining minster, Juan Carlos Jobet, previously stated that the country’s target to supply green hydrogen at a cost of just $1.30-1.40/kg (€1.06-1.14/kg) by 2030 had been brought forward to 2025. “We are updating those numbers and we think we are going to be below those numbers by 2025,” Jobet said at Reuters Events: Hydrogen 2021 on 20 May. Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic 

Chile is able to achieve substantial cost reductions in green hydrogen compared with other countries due to its high availability of renewable energy, however the updated 2025 figure was a result of technology developments, Jobet said.

Transport costs would also need to be taken into consideration.

The McKinsey & Company Hydrogen Insights Report 2021 forecasts that transporting hydrogen in ammonia to the west coast of the US, an 8,200km route, could add between $1.90-2.40/kg (€1.55-1.96/kg) hydrogen. Taking the average of this analysis on a per-km basis, the cost of transporting hydrogen as ammonia from Chile to mainland Europe would be a further €3.10/kg hydrogen, lifting the delivered cost to €4.20/kg hydrogen.

Despite such a high transport cost, Chilean green hydrogen would still be cheaper than baseload electrolytic hydrogen. ICIS front-month and year+3 baseload hydrogen assessments for the Netherlands were assessed at €11.01/kg and €4.87/kg hydrogen respectively on 5 November.

Belgium-Chile deal to boost cheap EU green hydrogen supply

-Storing energy in plants with electronic roots

By watering bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) with a solution that contains conjugated oligomers, researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, have shown that the roots of the plant become electrically conducting and can store energy.

Dr Eleni Stavrinidou, associate professor and principal investigator in the Electronic Plants Group at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, showed in 2015 that circuits can be fabricated in the vascular tissue of roses. The conducting polymer PEDOT was absorbed by the plant´s vascular system to form electrical conductors that were used to make transistors. In a later work in 2017, she demonstrated that a conjugated oligomer, ETE-S, could polymerise in the plant and form conductors that can be used to store energy.

From plants cuttings to intact plants

“We have previously worked with plants cuttings, which were able to take up and organise conducting polymers or oligomers. However, the plant cuttings can survive for only a few days, and the plant is not growing anymore. In this new study we use intact plants, a common bean plant grown from seed, and we show that the plants become electrically conducting when they are watered with a solution that contains oligomers”, says Eleni Stavrinidou.

The researchers here have used a trimer, ETE-S, which is polymerised by a natural process in the plant. A conducting film of polymer is formed on the roots of the plant, which causes the complete root system to function as a network of readily accessible conductors.

The bean plant roots remained electrically conducting for at least four weeks, with a conductivity in the roots of approximately 10 S/cm (Siemens per centimetre).

Storing energy

The researchers investigated the possibility of using the roots to store energy, and built a root-based supercapacitor in which the roots functioned as electrodes during charging and discharging.

“Supercapacitors based on conducting polymers and cellulose are an eco-friendly alternative for energy storage that is both cheap and scalable”, says Eleni Stavrinidou.

The root-based supercapacitor worked well, and could store 100 times more energy than previous experiments with supercapacitors in plants that used the plant stem. The device can also be used over extended periods of time since the bean plants in the experiments continued to live and thrive.

“The plant develops a more complex root system, but is otherwise not affected: it continues to grow and produce beans”, Eleni Stavrinidou assures us.

Highly significant results

The results, which have been published in the scientific journal Materials Horizons (“Biohybrid plants with electronic roots via in-vivo polymerization of conjugated oligomers”), are highly significant, not just for the development of sustainable energy storage, but also for the development of new biohybrid systems, such as functional materials and composites. The electronic roots are also a major contribution to the development of seamless communication between electronic and biological systems.

Storing energy in plants with electronic roots

Close-up of electronic roots. (Image: Thor Balkhed)

Nonwoven Recycling Hydrogen Plastic

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