Chemical Recycling of Plastic Waste – Pyrolysis and downstream processing of pyrolysis oils

alexander hofmann conference

by Alexander Hofman, Fraunhofer UMSICHT

The recycling of many plastic waste streams like mixed plastics, composites or plastics with inorganic and organic contaminations remains very challenging. As an addition to mechanical recycling, chemical recycling offers the chance for closing the plastic recycling loop. Currently, great amounts of plastics are still incinerated and removed from this loop.

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Brightlands Chemelot Campus is Strategic Partner of Plastic Waste 2 Plastic Conference

strategic partner

Plastic Waste 2 Plastic Conference welcomes Brightlands Chemelot Campus as Strategic Partner

Brightlands Chemelot Campus is a world-leading innovation location in smart materials and sustainable manufacturing and home to a vibrant and fast-growing open community of groundbreaking companies and knowledge institutes.

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Is it possible to turn plastic waste into new plastic in a sustainable way?

Waste plastic can be turned into new plastics competing with plastics made from virgin fossil oil via pyrolysis /chemical recycling. This will change the current recycling value chain into a new sustainable ecosystem.

The new ecosystems contains the following steps in the materials cycle:

  • End of life Plastic Waste Stream Collection
  • Cleaning, Sorting and Separation
  • Recycling
    • Chemical recycling
    • Thermal and Thermochemical recycling / Pyrolysis
  • Processing of recycled materials (plastics and chemicals)
  • Production of recycled plastic materials
  • Reuse of the newly created plastics in applications
  • End of life plastic waste stream collection
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What is chemical recycling / pyrolysis?

Chemical recycling today often refers to technologies that can be classed depending on the level at which they break down the plastic waste. Concretely, the technologies can be divided into 3 types:

  • Solvent-based purification. Comprises technologies that go down to the polymer stage. They are capable of decontaminating the plastic but cannot address its degradation. They work only with monostreams (PVC, PS, PE, PP).
  • Chemical depolymerisation. Chemical process which turns the plastics back into their monomers. Allows for decontamination but not addressing degradation. Only works with monostreams (PET, PU, PA, PLA, PC, PHA, PEF).
  • Thermal depolymerisation and cracking (pyrolysis and gasification) are energy-intensive processes which turn the polymers back into simpler molecules. They are capable of decontaminating polymers and, by bringing plastic back to its original building blocks, addressing the degradation of the material. These technologies can deal with more than one monomer at a time and are also capable of producing fuels. This raises the need for strict regulatory controls to prevent plastic being turned into fuel in lieu of recycling.
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Port of Rotterdam and Black Bear Carbon join forces

port of rotterdam

Black Bear Carbon announced that it aims to develop its next Tire-to-Carbon-Black-Upcycling-Plant at the port of Rotterdam.

Over the past months, ‘Black Bear Carbon’, the leading company in recovering high quality carbon black (rCB) from end-of life tire, explored multiple locations in the Netherlands for a new tire-carbonization plant.

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