Electric car – Researchers describe a more sustainable process to recycle biobased polycarbonates 23-11-2023

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The next generation of sustainable antimicrobial technologies

Polymers and plastics are ubiquitous in our daily lives, and are used extensively in everything from construction materials and synthetic textiles to medical devices and product packaging. As a result, these materials are frequently exposed to microorganisms, which can accumulate on product surfaces and lead to odours, staining and degradation. Unfortunately, this can result in premature disposal of these items into landfill, significantly increasing their carbon footprint, while generating substantial waste and contributing to a loss of revenue. Antimicrobial additives are a viable solution to this problem, offering long-lasting antimicrobial protection to a wide range of products to prevent microbial damage and reduce waste.  Electric car

The damaging effects of microbes

Microorganisms – such as bacteria, fungi and algae – are tiny lifeforms that exist all around us in vast quantities. They play a critical role in maintaining various ecosystems, by breaking down organic matter for conversion to new food and energy sources, and are also important in maintaining the microbiota within the human body. However, microbes can cause irreversible damage to many man-made products, leading to premature disposal or costly repairs.

Polymers like plastics, rubber and synthetic textiles are particularly susceptible to the metabolic activities of microorganisms. The enzymes and acids released by microbes can break down these substrates, causing discoloration, malodour and decay, and leading to structural and functional damage.1,2 For example, mould can build up and take root within the porous structure of polymer-based caulk used to seal bathroom tiles, leading to recurring aesthetic issues. Electric car

Frequent cleaning and scrubbing with strong chemicals – such as bleach – can, in turn, prematurely degrade the caulk. In addition, microbe-related damage to these products can also make them unsuitable for repurposing or recycling. Without the protection of antimicrobials, microbes can reduce the lifespan of the materials used to tile bathroom surfaces, and they can quickly end up in landfill.


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Chemical Recycling: The Future of Plastic Recycling in Europe

Europe’s journey towards environmental sustainability is taking a significant turn with the advancement of chemical recycling technologies. A recent study reveals that chemical recycling could contribute up to 34% to the continent’s plastic recycling efforts. This innovation, alongside mechanical recycling, is projected to elevate the overall plastic recycling rate to an impressive 80% by 2030​​.

The study, utilizing material flow analysis (MFA), focuses on the quantitative impact of chemical recycling technologies on Europe’s plastic waste management. It analyzes various scenarios, including the current state and potential future developments. The research points to a mix of recycling methods—mechanical and chemical—as the key to achieving higher recycling rates. This holistic approach is critical in tackling the growing plastic waste challenge.  Electric car

Chemical Recycling Technologies: A Game Changer

Chemical recycling involves sophisticated processes like pyrolysis coupled with distillation and hydrotreatment, as well as gasification combined with Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis. These technologies are pivotal in converting plastic waste into valuable resources, thus playing a crucial role in circular economy efforts.

Chemical recycling, together with mechanical and physical recycling processes scale-up, is vital for EU’s strategic autonomy as waste will be a valuable resource in a circular society we are building now. This is helping the plastics/chemical industry to reduce the dependance on fossil raw materials and associated carbon emissions at the end of use.

Annick Meerschman, Director Innovation in Cefic  Electric car

According to the European Commission, chemical recycling should be promoted as an additional method for processing waste that is not suitable for mechanical recycling, especially if it results in a lower environmental impact compared to incineration and the production of new plastic.

The study mentioned here does just that, highlighting the promising solution that is chemical recycling and providing evidence toward how it can significantly increase the efficacy of plastic waste management​.

The European Scenario and Future Prospects

Europe’s current plastic recycling rate is alarmingly low, prompting an urgent need for advancements in recycling technology.  Electric car

The study conducted at a European level uses material flow analysis modeling to provide estimates of chemical recycling’s contribution to enhancing plastic circularity. It models a status quo for 2018 and compares it with potential future scenarios for 2030, considering developments in both mechanical and chemical recycling technologies.


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Researchers describe a more sustainable process to recycle biobased polycarbonates

ICIQ researchers describe a more sustainable process to recycle biobased polycarbonates. Credit: ICIQ

A month ago, the European Union banned glitter. This action was part of an effort that aims to reduce the presence of microplastics in our environment by 30%. Waste plastics are a serious problem for our ecosystems, and the push for recycling plastics, in general, has gained significant attention as a potential solution.

“Circular processes for plastics represent ways to recycle chemical feedstock ideally over and over again, thereby greatly contributing to sustainability, avoiding unnecessary plastic waste accumulation and possible formation of microplastics in our eco-systems,” explains Prof. Arjan W. Kleij, Group Leader at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ-CERCA).  Electric car

All plastics are mainly made from polymers, macromolecules assembled by the union of many small molecules called monomers. Like a construction game, the ideal plastic recycling process would be the controlled degradation of these polymers into smaller products and the repolymerization of them into functional plastics.

Researchers from ICIQ now describe a circular process to depolymerize and repolymerize polycarbonates, a group of plastics often used in medical applications as surgical instruments, in building and construction as an alternative for glass, and in the automobile industry to enhance vehicle efficiency by reducing weight.

The study, led by group leaders Prof. Arjan W. Kleij and Prof. Carles Bo, in collaboration with Dr. Fernando Bravo, manager of the Knowledge and Technology Transfer (KTT) department, focuses on the use of TBD (triazabicyclodecene), a multi-task catalyst, to promote this circular process for a biobased polycarbonate. Electric car

“The cycle of polycarbonate generation, degradation towards a cyclic carbonate monomer, and re-polymerization to regenerate the polycarbonate using the same catalyst both in the degradation and in the recycling can contribute to a more sustainable circular economy, in which fewer chemicals are involved,” indicates Dr. Fernando Bravo.

The biobased polymer used in this study is formed by monomers of limonene and carbon dioxide, with the former compound extracted from the peel of citrus fruits and available in large amounts from the food industry. Poly(limonene carbonate), shortened to PLC, has an extremely low biodegradability, but chemical degradation, like the catalytic approach presented in this collaboration, can accelerate the degradation process, making it a potentially attractive process for commercial exploitation.

This summer, ICIQ presented a patent for the use of the limonene polycarbonate for adhesive and coating applications as an alternative for oil-based materials. This polymer development is now further complemented by the present discovery, demonstrating the potential of PLC as a circular material to generate plastics that can be easily recycled under practical conditions. Electric car


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Honda is intensifying its commitment to hydrogen technology, unveiling a groundbreaking fuel cell engine concept set to debut at Hydrogen Week 2023

The company’s dedication to achieving global carbon neutrality by 2050 across all operational divisions is underscored by this innovation, displayed at the Brussels Expo from November 20 to 23. This compact and potent hydrogen engine module, designed for durability and versatility, is poised to revolutionize fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and find applications in commercial, construction machinery, and stationary power generation.

The prototype reflects Honda’s eagerness to collaborate with commercial and technology partners, urging potential associates to explore possibilities at stand I90 in Hall 7 during European Hydrogen Week. Building on existing collaborations, Honda supports various companies in the development of products within defined application areas, fostering the integration of fuel cell systems into diverse development programs. The company aims to commence commercial sales of fuel cell systems by 2025.  Electric car

Ingo Nyhues, Deputy General Manager, European Business Planning & Development at Honda Motor Europe, emphasized the company’s confidence in the imminent surge in demand for hydrogen technology, with over 30 years of experience in hydrogen cell development. The new fuel cell prototype is characterized by versatility, compactness, powerful output, durability, and quick start-up times, making it an ideal solution for sectors transitioning to zero-emission energy sources.

Identifying four key areas for its fuel cell system deployment, Honda focuses on fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and heavy commercial vehicles, with plans to introduce the new CR-V FCEV model in North America and Japan by 2024. The company is also investing in clean, low-noise, and low-vibration fuel cell solutions for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Honda’s collaboration with Isuzu Motors in developing a heavy-duty vehicle with a next-generation fuel cell system underscores its commitment to sustainable propulsion technologies.  Electric car

Stationary power generation is another arena where Honda aims to apply its fuel cell technology, catering to the increased power requirements of data centers and the growing demand for backup power sources. Additionally, the company is set to collaborate with the construction industry, leveraging its fuel cell systems in excavators and wheel loaders to contribute to the development of zero-emission construction machinery.

Honda’s legacy in hydrogen technology spans over three decades, with significant milestones such as the Honda FCX in 2002 and the Clarity Fuel Cell sedan in 2016.

Beyond products, Honda R&D Europe has established a green hydrogen production plant in Germany, utilizing excess solar energy to produce green hydrogen through electrolysis, further expanding the scope of applications in the energy management sector.

Honda is intensifying its commitment to hydrogen technology, unveiling a groundbreaking fuel cell engine concept set to debut at Hydrogen Week 2023

Stellantis has strategically aligned itself with CATL, a prominent Chinese company, marking a significant move towards embracing Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) batteries

This strategic shift is encapsulated in a non-binding memorandum of understanding that primarily addresses the European market.  Electric car

The document outlines plans for localizing the supply of LFP battery cells and modules, dedicated to powering Stellantis’ electric vehicles manufactured in Europe.

Furthermore, the collaboration extends to exploring the establishment of a joint venture with equal ownership stakes.

Carlos Tavares, the CEO of Stellantis, views the agreement with CATL as a pivotal element in the company’s long-term strategy aimed at ensuring the mobility of the European middle class.

Tavares emphasizes that CATL’s leadership in the sector aligns seamlessly with Stellantis’ objective to provide innovative and accessible battery technology through its renowned brands.  Electric car

This technology is envisaged to play a crucial role in achieving Stellantis’ ambitious target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The memorandum sets the stage for a prolonged collaboration between CATL and Stellantis, focusing on two key strategic pillars.

Firstly, the partners will jointly develop a technology roadmap that underpins Stellantis’ battery electric vehicles, illustrating a commitment to innovation and progress. Secondly, the memorandum underscores the intent to identify opportunities that will fortify the entire battery value chain.

Robin Zeng, the President and General Manager of CATL, expresses satisfaction in elevating the collaboration with Stellantis to new heights.  Electric car

Zeng recognizes the synergy between Stellantis’ automotive manufacturing expertise and CATL’s cutting-edge battery technology as a decisive step for both companies in their pursuit of carbon neutrality goals.

The partnership, as Zeng asserts, signifies a commitment to offering increasingly competitive and sustainable solutions, contributing to the global energy transition.

In essence, the Stellantis-CATL collaboration on LFP batteries signifies a bold strategic move, positioning both companies at the forefront of sustainable and innovative solutions in the electric vehicle sector. Electric car

Stellantis has strategically aligned itself with CATL, a prominent Chinese company, marking a significant move towards embracing Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) batteries

The electric car, once hailed as the harbinger of a green revolution in transportation, now reveals a tapestry of contradictions that challenges its claim to sustainability

The narrative that electric vehicles (EVs) mitigate environmental damage by eliminating emissions is overshadowed by the complex web of issues arising from their production.

While electric cars strive to reduce tailpipe emissions, their manufacturing process raises alarming concerns. The extraction and transportation of essential materials such as nickel, lithium, manganese, and cobalt cast a dark shadow over the purported eco-friendliness of EVs. For instance, nickel production in Indonesia has led to deforestation and water pollution, depriving local communities of clean drinking water. The extensive supply chain for these materials adds another layer of opacity, making it nearly impossible to trace their origin accurately.Electric car

Moreover, the exploitation of mine workers, often with minimal rights, poses ethical dilemmas, with reports highlighting dangerous working conditions and, in some instances, the involvement of child labor, particularly in African countries.

Even in advanced nations like Germany, the much-touted Tesla factory exposed the pitfalls of the energy transition. Environmental challenges linked to the production process of electric cars are not confined to developing regions; they permeate even the most developed economies, revealing systemic contradictions.

The push for an all-electric future by the European Union, with a mandate to cease internal combustion engine sales by 2035, demands careful consideration of the inherent contradictions in the electric car sector. Blindly embracing such a monumental shift without addressing the underlying issues risks a counterproductive outcome. A recent survey underscored a paradox where consumers express a desire for electric cars but hesitate to make the purchase. This incongruity underscores the need for greater transparency in the production of EVs, emphasizing that the challenges lie not in the technology itself but in the unregulated practices within the sector.  Electric car

As the world navigates toward a sustainable future, a comprehensive and critical examination of the electric car industry is imperative. Electric car

Technological progress must be accompanied by a paradigm shift in the mindset of both consumers and manufacturers, emphasizing ethical production practices and environmental responsibility. Without such concerted efforts, the promise of a green transportation revolution may remain elusive, marred by the hidden costs and contradictions of the electric car industry.

Packaging specialist Alpla is investing in Morocco and planning expansion

By acquiring a majority stake in the packaging company Atlantic Packaging and establishing a joint venture with the previous sole owner Diana Holding, Alpla Group is expanding its presence in North Africa. In addition to PET preforms for the beverage industry for the regional markets in the Maghreb and for Western Africa, Alpla Morocco also produces plastic pallets by injection moulding and packaging films by extrusion at its modern plant in Tangier. Currently, 32 people are employed at the site.

Alpla Morocco’s preform capacity has already been tripled in 2023 by two additional preform production lines.  Electric car

In the coming years, the company intends to increasing the portfolio of the Moroccan site through further local activities, potentially including bottle and closure production. This initiative aims to establish the groundwork for growth and sustainable packaging solutions in the North Western African Region.

In addition to its packaging subsidiary, Diana Holding is primarily active in the agro-industrial sector. Through this joint venture, the family-run group is claimed to strengthen its packaging division, which was founded in 2007, by capitalising on its substantial bottling experience garnered over nearly 50 years as the former Coca-Cola Company bottler in the northern region of Morocco.

The approximately 12,000 m2 plant in the free trade zone of Tangier is to be expanded in stages over the coming years. More than 20,000 m2 of space is available for future expansion.  Electric car

In the first stage, Alpla Morocco has tripled its production capacity from the current 100 million preforms to around 300 million units per year. To this end, the company is investing in two new PET preform production lines.


Packaging specialist Alpla is investing in Morocco and planning expansion