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Chemical recycling of plastics may reach new heights

ReNew ELP is constructing its first commercial-scale plastics recycling facility in Wilton, UK, based on its ‘breakthrough’ Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor technology, which allows it to chemically recycle end-of-life plastics into valuable oils and chemicals.

ReNew ELP’s Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (Cat-HTR) technology uses water at high pressure and high temperatures to chemically recycle a wide range of feedstocks such as plastic scrap and discarded tyres. The materials are essentially broken down to their original component molecules and then ‘rearranged’ to turn the waste plastic into readily usable chemicals and recycled oils.

The new site will initially have a processing capacity of 20 000 tonnes per annum, which will be eventually scaled up to 80 000 tonnes per annum. The facility is scheduled to become operational in late 2019.

‘The agents of change’

The Cat-HTR technology was originally developed by Australian company Licella, and further refined and patented by ReNew, according to the recycler’s managing director Richard Daley. He comments: ‘Our technology is unique when compared to every other thermal conversion process, as it uses water as the agent of change, so the plant can operate at far lower temperatures making it more efficient than pyrolysis or gasification.’

The businessman adds that there is no need to dry the feedstock prior to treatment, which significantly reduces operating costs versus alternative technologies. Also, the process does not produce dioxins or other toxic compounds.

‘Our technology provides an innovative solution to the global problem of end-of-life plastic disposal and contributes to the creation of a circular economy,’ Daley concludes.

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