Mechanically recycled plastic – Multiple mixed plastic polymers depolymerized by single catalyst in new scientific development 04-11-2023

Mechanically recycled plastic

Borealis anticipates expanded mechanically recycled plastic compounding capacity in closed Rialti acquisition

Borealis has successfully closed a deal to acquire recycled polypropylene compound producer Rialti in a move set to boost its portfolio of PP compounds based on mechanical recyclates by 50,000 tons annually.

Rialti produces polypropylene compounds with a focus on mechanically recycled PP feedstock from post-industrial and post-consumer waste. With its annual capacity of 50,000 tons, it makes injection moulding and extrusion PP compounds for the automotive, appliances, and construction industries, among others.  Mechanically recycled plastic

After signing the agreement to acquire Rialti back in June, Borealis anticipates that the subsequent improvement in capacity will help to expand its PP compounding business and increase its volume of compounds based on mechanical recyclates. In turn, it expects to provide a wider range of sustainability-minded, high-performance solutions, meet customer demand, and help close the loop on a circular economy.

“Mechanical recycling is a key component of our integrated circular cascade model, which is a cornerstone of our future-positive transformation and path to net zero,” says Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis executive vice president Polyolefins, Circularity and Innovation & Technology. “The acquisition of Rialti provides a vital expansion of our recyclate-based PP compound capacity, and marks another critical step on our path to reinventing essentials for sustainable living.”  Mechanically recycled plastic

Massimo Dal Toso, CEO of Rialti, adds: “Borealis is at the forefront of our industry’s mission to advance plastics circularity. With the closing of this transaction, I am pleased to see Rialti’s capacity and expertise contributing to this endeavour.


Mechanically recycled plastic

CompPair healable composites, recycled carbon fibers featured in ID Genève luxury watch

HealTech prepregs enable 400x faster regenerative properties for the new Circular C product, along with incorporation of industrial waste fibers for a sustainable touch.

The newly launched Circular C watch by ID Genève (Geneva, Switzerland) is claimed to be the first regenerative watch that has been designed with CompPair Technologies’ (Renens) healable composite technology, HealTech, produced with prepregs made from recycled carbon fibers sourced from industrial waste.  Mechanically recycled plastic

The dial, side decorations and bezel of the watch are all comprised of HealTech prepregs, which are capable of repairing scratches and internal cracks up to 400x faster than industrial standards. Initially intended for sports, leisure and aerospace components, CompPair’s smart material has also proved its appeal in the luxury sector.

“CompPair’s vision is to extend the lifetime of composites to reduce maintenance operations and waste, as well as improve circularity, in line with ID Genève’s vision,” Amaël Cohades, CEO and cofounder of CompPair, says. “Through this work, we are demonstrating the use of our healable resins with recycled carbon fibers, that can be applied to various other applications.”  Mechanically recycled plastic

CompPair aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy with a product enabling ultrafast repair and cost reductions. The company is developing innovative resins which produce composite structures that can heal damage on-site in 1 minute. Together with ID Genève, CompPair has taken its technology one step further by combining it with recycled fibers, combining innovation with sustainability.


recycled carbon fibers

Multiple mixed plastic polymers depolymerized by single catalyst in new scientific development

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a catalytic process that can apparently deconstruct multiple polymers in mixed plastic streams back down to their building blocks – a development set to cut down on energy use, fossil fuel consumption, and carbon emissions, among other benefits.

According to ORNL, almost 90% of mixed consumer plastics are buried in landfills or incinerated at commercial facilities, regardless of whether they enter waste or recycling streams. This is attributed to the cheaper alternative of making new plastics rather than collecting, sorting, and recycling existing ones.  Mechanically recycled plastic

In response, ORNL has combined chemical design, neutron scattering, and computing to develop a new recycling process.

It utilizes a catalyst to deconstruct multiple polymers in mixed plastics back into monomers. This process is said to take place over approximately two hours and is thought to be the first single catalytic treatment capable of deconstructing PET, polyurethanes, polyamides, and polycarbonates – all of which make up around 30% of global plastic production, the researchers claim.

An analysis published in the scientific journal Materials Horizons suggests that the new catalyst would call for up to 94% less energy input, generate up to 95% fewer greenhouse gases, and reduce fossil fuel consumption by up to 96%. It is set to replace harsh chemicals in polymer deconstruction and provide good selectivity, thermal stability, nonvolatility, and low flammability.  Mechanically recycled plastic

ORNL synthetic polymer chemist and author Tomonori Saito explained: “Our approach involves a tailored synthetic organocatalyst — a compound comprised of small organic molecules that facilitate organic chemical transformations. The organocatalyst can convert batches of mixed plastic waste into valuable monomers for reuse in producing commercial-grade plastics and other valuable materials.

“This exceptionally efficient chemical process can help close the loop for recycling mixed plastics by replacing first-use monomers with recycled monomers.

“Today, nearly all plastics are made from fossil fuels using first-use monomers made by energy-intensive processes. Establishing this kind of closed-loop recycling, if used globally, could reduce annual energy consumption by about 3.5 billion barrels of oil.”

ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source has also used small-angle neutron scattering to confirm that waste plastics had been deconstructed into monomers. In this process, neutrons are scattered at small angles to gauge structures at different levels of detail, e.g., nanometres or fractions of a micrometre.  Mechanically recycled plastic

Plastics are deconstructed at different temperatures by the organocatalyst. This enables individual monomers to be sequentially and separately recovered in a reusable form, as PET deconstructs at 180°C, polyamides at 210°C, polyurethanes at 160°C, and polycarbonates at 130°C.


Mechanically recycled plastic

Plastic-eating bacteria turn waste into useful starting materials for other products

Mountains of used plastic bottles get thrown away every day, but microbes could potentially tackle this problem. Now, researchers in ACS Central Science report that they’ve developed a plastic-eating E. coli that can efficiently turn polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste into adipic acid, which is used to make nylon materials, drugs and fragrances.  Mechanically recycled plastic

Previously, a team of researchers including Stephen Wallace engineered a strain of E. coli to transform the main component in old PET bottles, terephthalic acid, into something tastier and more valuable: the vanilla flavor compound vanillin. At the same time, other researchers engineered microbes to metabolize terephthalic acid into a variety of small molecules, including short acids. So, Wallace and a new team from the University of Edinburgh wanted to expand E. coli’s biosynthetic pathways to include the metabolism of terephthalic acid into adipic acid, a feedstock for many everyday products that’s typically generated from fossil fuels using energy-intensive processes.

The team developed a new E. coli strain that produced enzymes that could transform terephthalic acid into compounds such as muconic acid and adipic acid.

Then, to transform the muconic acid into adipic acid, they used a second type of E. coli, which produced hydrogen gas, and a palladium catalyst. Mechanically recycled plastic

In experiments, the team found that attaching the engineered microbial cells to alginate hydrogel beads improved their efficiency, and up to 79% of the terephthalic acid was converted into adipic acid. Using real-world samples of terephthalic acid from a discarded bottle and a coating taken from waste packaging labels, the engineered E. coli system efficiently produced adipic acid. In the future, the researchers say they will look for pathways to biosynthesize additional higher-value products.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland; the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre; a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation; and an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Sustainable Manufacturing grant. Mechanically recycled plastic


Plastic-eating bacteria turn waste into useful starting materials for other products

Huntsman suspends EV battery materials because of Chinese imports

Huntsman is suspending a project that would produce ultra-pure ethylene carbonate (UPEC) used in the batteries of electric vehicles because of aggressive imports from China, which has caused pricing to fall by 75%, said the company.

“The current level of pricing will not generate the returns we would expect, and we took the difficult decision to suspend the project,” the company said in prepared remarks about its Q3 earnings.  Mechanically recycled plastic

Once Huntsman sees signs that pricing for UPEC will improve, it can complete the project within 12 months.

Huntsman is the only producer of ultra-pure ethylene carbonate in North America. The company had planned to raise UPEC capacity to up to 20,000 tonnes/year at its plant in Conroe, Texas. The project would have been completed by the end of this year.

Huntsman suspends EV battery materials because of Chinese imports

SK Geo Centric to build a pyrolysis plant in Dangjin with Plastic Energy

■ SK Geo Centric signed an MOU with UK-based Plastic Energy in Germany to establish a pyrolysis plant in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam-do Province, Korea on October 31  Mechanically recycled plastic

■ With the plant’s geographical advantage, proximity to the Seoul metropolitan area and Chungcheong-do regions, the plant is anticipated to create a synergy for waste plastic recycling in collaboration with the Ulsan ARC

■ SK Geo Centric CEO Na Kyung-soo stated, “The establishment and operation of the pyrolysis plant will contribute to establishing a circular economy system”

SK Geo Centric joins forces with Plastic Energy, the UK-based plastic pyrolysis specialist, to build a waste plastic pyrolysis plant in Dangjin, Chungcheongnam-do province. The plant is the second domestic pyrolysis plant after the Ulsan ARC (Advanced Recycling Cluster), which is under construction in the southern district of Ulsan with the goal of operations in 2025.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction of the Pyrolysis Plant 2 in Frankfurt, Germany on October 31 (local time). According to the MOU, the companies will establish a joint venture and construct a pyrolysis facility in the Songsan-2 Foreign Investment Zone in Dangjin. The specific timeline for construction and plant operation will be determined through future discussions between the two companies. The annual waste plastic processing capacity of Pyrolysis Plant 2 is planned to be 66,000 tons.  Mechanically recycled plastic

As the second plant will be located near the Seoul metropolitan area and Chungcheong regions, not only will its locational feature facilitate efficient waste collection from these areas, there is also the potential connection with the Ulsan ARC. The pyrolysis oil produced at Pyrolysis Plant 2 is expected to be further refined at the Ulsan ARC’s pyrolysis oil post-treatment facility for use in petrochemical processes.

Pyrolysis oil is created by heating waste plastics and discarded vinyl at high temperatures, and it is considered a crude oil substitute. Therefore, it is regarded as a crucial element in the circular economy for waste plastics, as it can be used in petrochemical processes to produce new petrochemical products. This process is also referred to as “Urban Oil Field” as it is extracting crude oil from waste materials.  Mechanically recycled plastic

Last year, SK Geo Centric continued its collaborative relationship with Plastic Energy by signing a Heads of Agreement (HOA) for the construction of a waste plastic pyrolysis plant in the Ulsan ARC. Building on Plastic Energy’s experience in operating stable pyrolysis plants in places including Seville, Spain, and its accumulated technology patents, the partnership aims to open up an era of a circular economy for waste plastics in South Korea.

SK Geo Centric CEO Na Kyung-soo said, “Following Ulsan, operating a waste plastic pyrolysis plant in Dangjin will significantly contribute to establishing a circular economy system in Korea.”  Mechanically recycled plastic


SK Geo Centric to build a pyrolysis plant in Dangjin with Plastic Energy

Celanese, the US-based engineered materials producer, has unveiled its plan to cease operations at its nylon 6,6 and high-performance nylon manufacturing facilities located in Uentrop, Germany

The decision to shut down these production units is primarily attributed to mounting operational costs, a move intended to bolster the company’s financial stability. On Tuesday, Celanese initiated the consultation process with both the works council and the labor union, marking the initial steps in the closure procedure.

This strategic decision involves a meticulous timeline, with the company aiming to conclude the shutdown by the year 2024. It represents a significant operational shift and is anticipated to come with substantial financial implications.

The estimated cost of the plant closures is projected to range between USD 110 million and USD 125 million. This substantial expenditure encompasses a variety of expenses, such as decommissioning equipment, managing inventory, and addressing environmental concerns.  Mechanically recycled plastic

Furthermore, a crucial aspect of this process is the termination of the employees currently working at the Uentrop facility. While the company has made efforts to streamline the process and ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible for its workforce, the exact costs related to employee termination remain uncertain. The financial intricacies of severance packages, pensions, and other associated expenses are yet to be fully determined.

This decision has come as a response to the evolving economic landscape and changing market dynamics. Celanese, like many other global companies, faces the challenge of managing production costs and optimizing its global footprint to stay competitive in the industry. The decision to shut down these plants is part of a broader strategy to streamline operations and enhance profitability.  Mechanically recycled plastic

The impact of this closure extends beyond the financial realm. It also raises questions about the livelihoods and future employment opportunities of the workers at the Uentrop facility. The consultation process with the works council and union is crucial in ensuring that the interests of the employees are taken into account as the shutdown proceeds. It is a challenging and complex process that requires a delicate balance between cost management and social responsibility.

In the meantime, Celanese remains committed to maintaining its dividend payout to its stockholders. The company’s dividend, which is a distribution of profits to its shareholders, is set to be paid out in 2023. The dividend is payable to stockholders who were recorded as such by October 30, 2023.  Mechanically recycled plastic

As the shutdown plan progresses, Celanese will continue to navigate the complexities associated with the facility closures and the accompanying financial challenges. The company’s focus remains on adapting to the ever-changing industrial landscape while also fulfilling its obligations to its employees and shareholders. The eventual impact of this strategic decision on Celanese’s financial health and market position will be closely watched by industry observers and investors alike.

Celanese, the US-based engineered materials producer, has unveiled its plan to cease operations at its nylon 6,6 and high-performance nylon manufacturing facilities located in Uentrop, Germany

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Mechanically recycled plastic

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