At the 2nd ICIS Recycled Polymers conference held last week in Chicago, Pyrowave introduced a new nanopurification technology that specifically addresses the problem of contaminants in plastic waste and in pyrolysis oil. Contamination is an issue that has held back efforts to scale plastic recycling, precisely because of the inability to secure feedstock compatible with level of purity required in end applications. In fact, a United Nations report recently highlighted the challenges of handling hazardous chemicals present in plastics – additives and contaminants that represent major concerns to human health and the environment.
According to Pyrowave, its nanopurification technology operates at the molecular level to remove contaminants from polymers with perfect control on purified resins, offering a plastic waste pre-treatment to purify the resins that can be used in advanced recycling methods, or directly into final applications. The technology debottlenecks the access to plastic feedstock, by standardising the material upstream to be compliant with most advanced recycling process, including its own microwave depolymerization process.
Pyrowave has successfully demonstrated the technology by decontaminating polymers and supplying high-quality recycled plastics to industries requiring strict compliance, including food-contact applications.
For advanced recyclers, the ability to pre-treat the feedstock results in a higher quality pyrolysis oil, which in turn, means that the threshold of recycled oil added into steam crackers can be raised.
The company was inspired by the purification technologies applied in the pharmaceutical industry. The methodology takes advantage of the large difference in size and solubility disparity between polymers and most additives found in the compounds, using advanced nanofiltration membranes to separate the contaminants out. The patent-pending technology enables simultaneous removal of various contaminants - something not possible when using conventional dissolution methods - all while maintaining meticulous control over the endpoint.
Pyrowave said that the new technology could expand the range of recyclable plastics, including plastics with various contaminants and additives such as heavy metals, inorganic pigments, halogens, and flame retardants. Moreover, the process is simpler, tailored to customer specifications, more energy efficient and economical.
Powered by electricity, Pyrowave's new technology is low-carbon with approximatively 95% GHG emissions reduction compared to the virgin production of resins, and it enables higher recycling rates, producing 100% traceable resins.
"We cannot sit and do nothing as the plastic pollution crisis escalates and the recycling rates are barely improving", says Jocelyn Doucet, co-founder and CEO of Pyrowave. "As a pioneer of this industry, we are addressing the key challenge limiting the scaling of advanced recycling techniques by providing a groundbreaking nanopurification technology that will be driving real change for a cleaner, healthier planet.''