US-based sustainable technology company Anellotech has unveiled a new technology which converts a wide range of plastic waste directly into processing chemicals.
The Plas-TCatTM technology leverages Anellotech’s existing Bio-TCatTM process and has so far demonstrated “encouraging results” in lab studies, Anellotech said in a release 6 Dec.
Bio-TCat is a thermal catalytic process for converting biomass into BTX - a mixture of benzene, toluene and xylene - aromatics which are chemically identical to their petroleum-based counterparts.
The new Plas-TCatTM process is billed as a cost-effective technology which will recycle significant quantities of waste plastics directly into commodity chemicals, such as olefins, alkanes and aromatic chemicals, with properties identical to their petroleum-based counterparts.
The chemicals can then be used by manufacturers to make virgin plastics.
“Plas-TCat has the potential to transform plastic waste such as composite films, mixed plastics and plastics with biomass – such as paper labels – directly into valuable chemicals. It can handle oxygenated polymers, an important advantage over pyrolysis processes that produce complex oil mixtures which require upgrading and additional conversion in steam crackers,” explained David Sudolsky, president and CEO of Anellotech.
The New York-based company now intends to further develop Plas-TCat to convert the majority of plastic materials used today, including composite films.
As part of this, Anellotech will feed in plastic waste into its Bio-TCat lab and TCat-8 pilot systems in Silsbee, Texas, with the aim to eventually develop and design a commercial plant to manufacture commodity chemicals at large scale.
The company has also extended its development programme to include further studies to ensure that the process is robust and capable of running long term, on a range of real-world waste plastics feedstocks, with all the impurities that come with them.
With potentially high yields of valuable products, the technology can be particularly useful in areas where plastic waste collection is not enforced and collection infrastructure to isolate waste plastics streams is currently lacking.
“Plas-TCat provides economic incentives to tackle plastics pollution, especially in developing countries where much of the ocean plastic pollution originates,” Sudolsky added.