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Award-winning Pyrowave uses microwaves to ‘deconstruct’ plastics

Canada – Canadian company Pyrowave has won first prize in the IQ-CHem International Chemistry Innovation Competition for its use of microwave radiation to deploymerise plastic. A key factor in its success was ‘€˜the size of the potential market for the technology’€™, according to the event’€™s organiser, Russian chemicals group SIBUR.

Pyrowave is proposing the first commercial modular technology consisting of small machines using a patented catalytic microwave depolymerisation technique to ‘deconstruct’ the plastic material.

‘It’s like unzipping the plastic into their initial constituents with the very targeted action of microwaves so that plastic manufacturers can easily re-zip them into new plastics that can be used in identical applications,’ explains Pyrowave’s ceo Jocelyn Doucet.

This represents the first commercial process that can convert polystyrene waste into recycled styrene monomer (RSM) with a yield of up to 90%, according to Pyrowave.

The company is currently ramping up the processing of post-consumer polystyrene at its facility in Valleyfield, Quebec, and is seeking partners interested in supplying waste polystyrene for conversion into RSM, adding to the volumes already secured from municipal sorting facilities, retailers, brand owners and recyclers.

Doucet comments: ‘We are currently working at filling up capacity of our first machine in operation, but our long-term model is to lease machines to partners and take care of the output for them.’

The Canadian firm is looking for funding to finance the building and installation of additional machines to increase the production capacity of recycled styrene monomer.

‘We have contracts in place with the largest polystyrene companies and we need additional capacities to be able to match the enormous demand for recycled chemicals,’ states Doucet.

The innovation competition’s judging panel comprised directors and executives from a host of major corporations, including The Dow Chemical Company, Linde, LG, Honeywell UOP, DuPont, 3M, BASF and Sinopec.

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