The company has developed a scalable, hydrothermal technology called HydroPRS -Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution - that is able to recycle all forms of plastic waste, the company said.
The HydroPRS process utilises at its core the Cat-HTR technology developed and owned by Australia-based Licella Holdings Limited, Mura’s largest single shareholder. Using water in the form of supercritical steam - water at elevated pressure and temperature - plastics hitherto considered unrecyclable can be broken down into oils and chemicals. The steam acts like molecular scissors, cutting the longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds into shorter-chain hydrocarbon products in as little as 25 minutes. Unlike other methods, which heat waste from the outside, the steam imparts energy from the inside, providing far more efficient conversion of plastic waste; a process which can be maintained regardless of scale. Moreover, using supercritical steam means the technology is also inherently scalable.
These hydrocarbon products can then be used to produce new, virgin-grade plastic and other materials, or reused in other sectors. The products may also be suitable for use in food-contact packaging, unlike conventional mechanical recycling processes.
Nonetheless, the process is mainly targeted at ‘unrecyclable’ packaging, such as multilayered films, pots, tubs and trays, that can currently only be incinerated or sent to landfill. The process is designed to work alongside conventional recycling and wider initiatives to reduce and reuse plastic. Crucially, advanced recycling was for the first time recognised as contributing to government targets for recycled plastics earlier this month.
Mura has now started construction on its first plant to use the technology in Teesside, UK. This plant, which is targeted for completion in 2022, will be able to process 80,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. One this first plant is built, it will form the blueprint for a rapid global rollout that will see one million tonnes of capacity in development worldwide by 2025 – equivalent to nearly half the plastic packaging waste produced in the UK each year. Sites are planned in Germany, the US and Asia.
Global plastic production creates an estimated 390m tonnes of CO2 every year – equivalent to over 172m cars, and accounts for 6% of global oil consumption today. However, this is forecast to increase to 20% by 2050. Not only do advanced recycling processes reduce the need for fossil fuel extraction for virgin plastics, they can save approximately 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of plastic recycled compared to incineration. On completion, the Teesside plant has the potential to eliminate up to 120,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, compared to incineration of the same plastic waste.
“It’s time to seize the initiative and put an end to plastic pollution across the world,” said Steve Mahon, CEO of Mura Technology.
“We need to act now and that’s why we’re taking a global-first approach – to scale fast and meet the challenge head on.”
To support its rapid global deployment, Mura has announced a series of global strategic partnerships. In January, the company signed an agreement with KBR Inc. to license the technology to its clients worldwide. KBR has also invested in the company. Igus GmbH. has partnered with Mura via a strategic investment to support the new plant in Teesside.
“This could be the solution the plastics industry has been crying out for,” explained Frank Blase, CEO of Igus.
Wood has been appointed as the EPC contractor for the Teesside project, the first site to use Mura’s HydroPRS process. The Teesside project is being developed by ReNew ELP, the UK subsidiary of Mura Technology.
Len Humpheys, CEO of Licella Holdings Limited, is delighted to see the first commercial-scale project proceed in the UK, he said. “Licella have spent 13 years and US$80m developing the Cat-HTRTM technology platform, at the core of the Mura HydroPRS process. With a shared vision for a more sustainable future, we are confident that Mura will establish themselves as leaders in the advanced recycling of plastic globally.”