rPET Biomass Fiber Waste-to-Energy Technologies : is it sustainable? 05-07-2023
rPET Biomass Fiber
Crude Oil Prices Trend
-Researchers develop recycling method to address carbon and glass fiber composites waste
Researchers at the University of Sydney have developed new methods to solve a major source of future waste from the automotive, aerospace and renewable industries.
It’s estimated that by 2030 carbon and glass fiber composites (CFRP), materials commonly used in wind turbine blades, hydrogen tanks, airplanes, yachts, construction, and car manufacturing, will be a key waste stream worldwide.
The annual accumulation of CFRP waste from aircraft and wind turbine industries alone is projected to reach 840,300 metric tons by 2050—the equivalent of 34 full stadiums—if suitable recycling methods are not adopted. rPET Biomass Fiber
While recycling methods do exist, most of this waste currently goes to landfill or is incinerated. The production of “virgin” composites has further implications for the environment too, including resource depletion and high energy input during production.
This is despite the existence of numerous methods to recycle carbon fiber composites which a research team at the University of Sydney says, if fully implemented, have the potential to significantly reduce energy use by 70 percent and prevent key streams of materials from going to waste.
“Carbon fiber composites are considered a ‘wonder’ material—they are durable, resistant to weathering and highly versatile—so much so that their use is projected to increase by at least 60% in the next decade alone,” said Dr. Hadigheh from the School of Civil Engineering. “But this huge growth also brings a huge increase in waste. For instance, it’s been estimated that around 500,000 tons of carbon and glass fiber composite waste from the renewable energy sector will exist by 2030.” rPET Biomass Fiber
A new recycling method
To tackle this issue, Dr. Hadigheh and his recent Ph.D. graduate Dr. Yaning Wei have developed a new recycling method for carbon and glass fiber composites in a bid to prevent from end-of-generation materials going to landfill. Published in Composites Part B: Engineering their approach ensures increased material recovery and improved energy efficiency compared to previous methods.
“Our kinetic analysis revealed that pre-treated CFRP undergoes an additional reaction stage, enabling enhanced breakdown at lower temperatures compared to untreated CFRP,” said Dr. Hadigheh. “The solvolysis pre-treatment not only facilitates greater breakdown but also preserves the mechanical properties of fibers by reducing heat consumption during recycling.” rPET Biomass Fiber
-World’s First Fleece Jacket Made from Biomass: A Sustainable Breakthrough
UPM Biochemicals and VAUDE, a pioneering supplier of sustainable outdoor apparel, have joined forces to create outerwear made from bio-based chemicals, demonstrating the textile industry’s potential to shift towards renewable materials.
Through close collaboration, UPM and VAUDE have successfully developed the world’s first fleece jacket made from wood-based polyester. This significant milestone bridges the gap between recycled fibers and sustainable virgin fibers, propelling performance fashion beyond reliance on fossil fuels. rPET Biomass Fiber
Traditionally, the production of polyester involves using a resin containing 30% monoethylene glycol (MEG) derived from crude oil. However, UPM and VAUDE have replaced this ingredient entirely with a new bio-based alternative called bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG), known as UPM’s BioPura™. BioPura™ serves as a drop-in solution that seamlessly integrates into existing polyester manufacturing processes, as it shares an identical molecular composition with conventionally used MEG.
To foster sustainable innovations across multiple industries, partnerships spanning the entire value chain are crucial. In this case, Indorama Ventures, a leading global chemical company, will polymerize and spin a polyester yarn incorporating UPM’s BioPura™ BioMEG at its facility in Guben, Germany. rPET Biomass Fiber
Subsequently, Pontetorto, a renowned textile manufacturer located in Prato, Italy, will process this yarn into an innovative bio-based polyester fabric, which VAUDE will utilize to create the final garment.
“This partnership exemplifies the transformative steps the chemical industry can take towards renewable materials,” asserts Michael Duetsch, Vice President of Biochemicals at UPM. “Together with VAUDE, we are pioneering a world that transcends dependence on fossil fuels, demonstrating the availability of the next level of sustainable textiles. VAUDE sets a precedent by breaking away from oil-based textiles and reducing emissions, paving the way for the entire industry to follow suit.” rPET Biomass Fiber
“Sustainability and product longevity go hand in hand: VAUDE products are characterized by timeless design, durable materials, and easy reparability. However, true sustainability is only achieved when a product is used for as long as possible,” explains René Bethmann, Senior Innovation Manager at VAUDE.
By incorporating UPM’s bio-based materials, we are further exploring and unlocking the potential of renewable circularity, minimizing resource consumption, sourcing from renewable sources, and ensuring that the product can remain within the value chain even after its useful life cycle ends. rPET Biomass Fiber
-Waste-to-Energy Technologies: Pioneering Sustainability, Innovation, and Profitability
Waste-to-energy technologies are revolutionizing waste management on a global scale, providing a sustainable energy source and a lucrative business opportunity. These groundbreaking technologies convert various waste materials, including municipal solid waste, agricultural residues, and industrial byproducts, into valuable energy resources such as electricity, heat, and transportation fuels.
By harnessing the energy potential of waste, these technologies not only mitigate the environmental impact of waste disposal but also drive the transition toward a low-carbon, circular economy. rPET Biomass Fiber
Among the most widely adopted waste-to-energy technologies is incineration, which involves the combustion of waste materials at high temperatures to generate heat and electricity. Modern incineration facilities are equipped with advanced pollution control systems that minimize harmful pollutant emissions like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and dioxins. In addition to providing a reliable energy source, incineration reduces waste volume by up to 90%, alleviating the strain on landfills and other disposal sites.
Another promising technology is anaerobic digestion, which decomposes organic waste materials through microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. rPET Biomass Fiber
This process produces biogas, a renewable energy source suitable for heating, electricity generation, and transportation. Anaerobic digestion is ideal for treating wet organic waste, such as food waste, manure, and sewage sludge, and effectively reduces greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and utilizing methane that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
Gasification and pyrolysis are thermochemical waste-to-energy technologies that convert waste materials into valuable products, including syngas, bio-oil, and biochar, by applying heat in the absence of oxygen. rPET Biomass Fiber
Syngas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and other gases, can be used as a fuel for electricity generation or as a feedstock for chemical and synthetic fuel production. Bio-oil can undergo further processing into transportation fuels, while biochar, a carbon-rich solid material, serves as a soil amendment to enhance fertility and sequester carbon.
In addition to their environmental benefits, waste-to-energy technologies offer significant economic advantages. By converting waste into valuable energy resources, these technologies reduce waste disposal costs and create new revenue streams for waste management companies, municipalities, and other stakeholders.
According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global waste-to-energy market is projected to reach a value of $50.1 billion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% from 2020 to 2027. rPET Biomass Fiber
This growth is driven by increasing waste generation, rising energy demand, and supportive government policies and incentives for renewable energy and waste management.
Nevertheless, the widespread adoption of waste-to-energy technologies faces challenges such as high capital and operational costs, public concerns regarding the environmental and health impacts of waste-to-energy facilities, and competition from other waste management and energy production options. Overcoming these barriers necessitates ongoing research and development efforts to enhance the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental performance of waste-to-energy technologies. rPET Biomass Fiber
Additionally, effective communication and stakeholder engagement strategies are crucial to address public concerns and garner support for implementing these technologies.
In conclusion, waste-to-energy technologies epitomize the intersection of innovation, sustainability, and profitability, providing a viable solution to the global waste management crisis while driving the transition toward a low-carbon, circular economy. By investing in the advancement and implementation of these technologies, governments, businesses, and communities can unlock the untapped energy potential of waste and create new avenues for economic growth and environmental preservation. rPET Biomass Fiber
-Alba Group Asia and PT Tridi Oasis Group have commenced the construction of a PET recycling plant in Indonesia, marking a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to combat plastic waste pollution
With the aim of reducing pollution by 2040, Indonesia is focusing on developing infrastructure projects for plastics recycling. The newly established joint venture, PT Alba Tridi Plastics Recycling Indonesia (ATPRI), has initiated the construction of a PET recycling plant in the Kendal Industrial Park, located in Central Java. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by key stakeholders who expressed their enthusiasm for this crucial initiative. rPET Biomass Fiber
ATPRI’s PET recycling plant is set to be the first of its kind in Indonesia. It will specialize in producing recycled PET flakes and PET granules, including those suitable for use with food products. The plant will primarily process PET waste collected from Java and the surrounding regions. The total investment for this project amounts to USD 60 million, demonstrating the commitment to advancing sustainable practices in Indonesia’s plastic recycling industry. rPET Biomass Fiber
-Oerlikon’s homogenization technology for mechanically recycling prepared PET waste
It is already operating at PT. Kahatex – one of Indonesia’s largest manufacturers of woven and circular-knitted fabrics: Oerlikon Barmag Huitong Engineering’s homogenization technology for mechanically recycling prepared polyester (PET) waste such as post-industrial waste (popcorn), bottle flakes and films. This key component ensures an evenly-homogeneous melt, influences the increase in viscosity and hence enables the production of defined rPET preliminary products for further processing such as melt, chips and fiber materials for direct spinning. rPET Biomass Fiber
Reusing waste is increasingly becoming a trend within the textile industry as well: in May 2022, PT. Kahatex commissioned a system with a daily capacity of 25 tons for recycling popcorn and bottle flakes into textile-quality chips for manufacturing POY and DTY. Traditionally, Southeast Asia’s largest family-run business is committed to ecological responsibility and is focused on manufacturing high-end textiles for the Asian, US and European markets. Here, the Indonesian fiber manufacturer is utilizing the homogenization technology provided by Oerlikon Barmag Huitong Engineering (OBHE), a joint venture between Oerlikon Barmag and Yangzhou Huitong Chemical Engineering Technique Co., Ltd.
The homogenizer showcases its potential at PT. Kahatex in Indonesia.
Using the corresponding thermomechanical recycling process, the waste material is extruded and the larger, more solid components filtered out before the homogenizer swings into action. rPET Biomass Fiber
It is in this reactor that the actual mechanical recycling and polycondensation take place. The technology generates a high surface area and – in conjunction with the precisely-defined dwell time – provides more options for influencing the melt. This creates an even, homogeneous melt, while the technology also simplifies the removal of volatile components. In turn, this enables targeted adjustment of the viscosity, which is necessary as the waste material to be processed does not always have the same viscosity. In this way, spinning system yarn waste – in the form of knotted balls or tangled threads, for instance – is processed into popcorn-shaped agglomerates for extrusion.
This popcorn can have viscosity values of 0.6, but also lower values of 0.4. No problem: the homogenizer’s increase in viscosity adjusts this. rPET Biomass Fiber
-Study Finds Majority of Firms Embrace Circular Strategy but Lack Plans for New Rules
According to recent European research conducted by Aquapak, a material technology firm, the majority of businesses have adopted a circular strategy, but only a few are taking proactive measures in anticipation of forthcoming legislation.
The study, carried out by Pure Profile in March of this year, involved interviews with 150 sustainability and packaging experts across the UK, Italy, and Germany.
The findings reveal that 85% of businesses have implemented a circular economy strategy, aiming to maximize the reuse and recycling of existing materials and products for as long as possible. rPET Biomass Fiber
Among them, 21% plan to achieve full circularity within the next three years.
Approximately 24% of companies have set a timeline of three to four years to achieve circularity, while an additional 23% expect to meet this objective within four to five years. However, 11% admitted to not having any such strategy in place, and an additional 5% were unsure.
Regarding upcoming regulations, such as the revised European Commission’s Packaging and Packaging and Packaging Regulation (PPWR), 20% of businesses claimed to be taking preemptive action, while 45% stated they respond promptly to new rules upon their announcement. Nevertheless, 24% described their rate of change as “medium,” and 10% characterized it as “very slow.” rPET Biomass Fiber
Aquapak’s CEO, Mark Lapping, commented on the study, stating, “Our findings demonstrate that European packaging producers are embracing the circular economy, prioritizing the achievement of full circularity. Aquapak is committed to supporting this goal by assisting our customers in utilizing the world’s resources more effectively through waste reduction and increased reuse of valuable materials. Our innovative technologies provide the necessary functionality to protect products while minimizing environmental impact.” rPET Biomass Fiber
-AI’s Role in Enhancing Recycling Efficiency: Promising Advancements and Challenges
Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a vital tool in revolutionizing recycling processes and addressing the pressing challenges associated with waste management. With its ability to identify recyclable materials, AI is proving to be one of science’s most remarkable inventions, offering tremendous potential to improve our world.
In 2020, solid waste production reached a staggering 2.24 billion metric tonnes, as reported by the World Bank. rPET Biomass Fiber
The projection for 2050 indicates a 73% increase to 3.88 billion metric tonnes, emphasizing the urgency of finding effective recycling solutions.
Plastics, in particular, present significant difficulties due to their sheer volume. Research from the Universities of Georgia and California reveals that over 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic waste were generated between the 1950s and 2015 when mass production of the material began.
Greyparrot, a UK start-up, has developed an AI system specifically designed to analyze waste processing and recycling facilities. Mikela Druckman, the founder of Greyparrot, highlights the immense challenge of handling mountains of waste that continually stream into these facilities without pause. To address this, Greyparrot has installed cameras equipped with AI software above conveyor belts in approximately 50 waste and recycling facilities across Europe. This setup allows for real-time analysis of the waste materials being processed. rPET Biomass Fiber
Despite advances in AI’s image processing capabilities, identifying and categorizing garbage remains a complex task. The crumpled, crushed, and soiled state of discarded items, such as a Coke bottle, poses challenges for AI systems. Druckman acknowledges this obstacle and emphasizes the need for further training and development in AI algorithms to enhance garbage recognition.
Currently, Greyparrot’s systems track a staggering 32 billion waste objects annually, contributing to the creation of a comprehensive digital waste map.
Waste managers can leverage this valuable knowledge to optimize their operations, while regulators gain a better understanding of problematic materials and their impact on the environment. rPET Biomass Fiber
Druckman believes that this information can also influence packaging design, ultimately encouraging the adoption of reusable products.
Troy Swope, an advocate for sustainable packaging, has replaced Gillette’s plastic razor trays with plant-based fiber alternatives through his company. Swope highlights the misconceptions surrounding recycling and urges a shift toward reducing plastic consumption instead. Misleading claims about eco or green packaging can confuse consumers, making it vital to provide accurate information and foster informed choices.
Polytag, a UK firm, addresses recycling transparency by utilizing ultraviolet tags on used plastic bottles. rPET Biomass Fiber
These tags are read by machines, and the recycling number is uploaded to a cloud-based app, allowing real-time tracking. Polytag has partnered with major UK retailers like Co-Op and Ocado to implement this system effectively.
The UK government, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, plans to launch a deposit return scheme in 2025. This initiative will introduce reverse vending machines where people can deposit used plastic bottles and metal drink cans in exchange for around 20 pence per item. rPET Biomass Fiber
However, the growing e-cigarette and vaping addiction crisis presents a significant challenge in recycling electronic waste, as the materials used in disposable single-use vapes are not easily recyclable. Disposed vapes, containing plastics, metals, and lithium batteries, are discarded at an alarming rate of 1.3 million units per week in the UK, resulting in 10 tonnes of lithium ending up in landfills annually. Industry, policymakers, and consumers all play essential roles in making products more recyclable, reusable, and reducing overall consumption. rPET Biomass Fiber
In conclusion, AI demonstrates immense potential in improving recycling efficiency. By leveraging AI systems, waste management operations can become more effective, regulators can gain valuable insights, and packaging design can be influenced to promote sustainability. rPET Biomass Fiber
However, challenges related to garbage recognition and misleading claims about recycling must be addressed to achieve lasting progress. The collective efforts of industry, policymakers, and individuals are crucial in promoting a circular economy and reducing waste generation.