BASF SE is upping its plastics recycling activities with a planned €20m investment in Quantafuel, a Norwegian company specialised in the pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste and purification of pyrolysis oil.
The investment is the follow-up to BASF’s ChemCycling project, which was announced late last year, and represents a further step towards establishing a circular economy of plastics.
Headquartered in Oslo, Quantafuel plans to start up a pyrolysis and purification plant with a nameplate capacity of approximately 16 kilotones per annum (ktpa) in Skive, Denmark in the fourth quarter of 2019.
As part of the agreement, the investing partners will help develop Quantafuel’s technology, which consists of an integrated process of pyrolysis and purification, focussing in particular on optimising the output for use as feedstock in chemical production.
BASF has the right of first refusal for the chemically recycled pyrolysis oil and purified hydrocarbons from the Danish plant for a minimum of four years after the start-up.
At a later stage, Quantafuel plans to license the jointly developed technology to other parties.
BASF will use the secondary raw materials in its ChemCycling project to develop the market for chemically recycled plastics with selected customers.
At BASF’s Ludwigshafen site, the recycled raw materials will be fed into the production process, partially replacing fossil-based resources.
The German supplier said it was planning to deliver the first commercial volumes of its Ccycled range of products once the Quantafuel plant in Denmark reaches full capacity.
“The investment underlines BASF’s commitment towards a sustainable use of resources and the development of a circular economy model for plastics,” said Hartwig Michels, president petrochemicals, BASF.
“Moreover, the partnership is a first step to build up a broad supply base for Ccycled products,” he added.
BASF started its ChemCycling project in 2018 in partnership with another German company, Recenso GmbH, which has also developed a process to convert mixed plastic fractions into processing oil.
Recenso's CTC process (catalytic tribochemical conversion) is a single-step catalytic liquefaction process using a combination of thermal, catalytic and physical forces for cracking hydrocarbon.
BASF said in a release 7 Oct that it has already produced first prototypes based on chemically recycled plastic waste – including food packaging, regarding which particularly high quality and hygiene standards apply.
The share of recycled raw material is allocated to the final product by using a certified mass balance approach.
However, according to BASF, in addition to technological challenges of developing chemically recycled products, certain regulatory issues will need to be resolved.
“On the regulatory side, authorities need to more broadly establish a technology-open definition of recycling, allowing that the use of chemical recycling processes can count towards recycling targets,” said Michels.
“In addition, incentives for recycled content should apply equally to all types of recycling and we also need full acceptance of mass balance approaches.”