Remove2Reclaim

Recycling of plastics and titanium dioxide via advanced dissolution and separation techniques for plastic additive removal

The Remove2Reclaim project aims to develop innovative solvent-based extraction routes to remove additives, such as titanium dioxide, from different polymer matrices and to reuse both titanium dioxide and polymer in new products. This dissolution route will be a nice add-on to existing mechanical and chemical polymer recycling schemes.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Press Releases
Press release by project partner INEOS Styrolution – 21 October 2020

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 09/07/2020
Duration: 01/09/2020 – 31/08/2023
Total budget: €3.107.817
Subsidy: €1.898.644
Project Partners

ACCTS

Carbon Capture, Transport and Storage in the Chemical Cluster of the Port of Antwerp

ACCTS is a collaborative study in which the technical and financial feasibility of CO2 capture at six different chemical sites in the Port of Antwerp is investigated, as well as different scenarios for the local transport of the captured CO2. The results of the study will contribute to the general goal of the Antwerp@C consortium to start the development of infrastructure for carbon capture, utilisation and storage in the chemical cluster of the Port of Antwerp.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: Feasibility Study
Duration: 1/12/2019 – 30/11/2020
Total budget: €499.004
Subsidy: €249.503
Project Partners

Encaps2Control

Controlled Release, Uptake and Enhanced (Bio-)Availability of Active Ingredients in Ruminant Feed and Fertilizers by Encapsulation

The Encaps2Control project sets out to develop a new and sustainable encapsulation technology for the controlled release of active ingredients in animal feed and organic fertilizers. This technology is based on biopolymers from renewable resources.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 12/12/2019
Duration: 31/12/2019 – 30/12/2022
Total budget: €3.698.711
Subsidy: €2.539.348
Project Partners

P2PC

Plastics to Precious Chemicals

The P2PC project aspires to cope with the urgent issue of plastics waste management. The project targets the challenge of increasing plastic waste volumes and diversity on the one hand, as well as the establishment of circular material schemes instead of value destruction. The most important premise of P2PC is that by pyrolysis, plastic waste that is currently being burned or landfilled can be a source of diverse chemical building blocks, the so-called “precious chemicals”. Its target, in other words, is to turn plastic waste into value. This way, P2PC can be considered as the next step in Flanders’ efforts to lead the global effort in tackling the challenge of waste plastics.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 04/04/2019
Duration: 1/05/2019 – 30/04/2022
Total budget: €3.092.101
Subsidy: €2.182.652
Project Partners

WATCH

Plastic Waste To Chemicals

The WATCH project seeks to improve chemical understanding of plastic waste conversion for the production of key chemicals such as short olefins, waxes, aromatics, styrene and diols. In this project, the aim is to develop, demonstrate and compare three technologies for the conversion of plastic waste to liquid energy carriers and chemicals via (catalytic) pyrolysis.

Project Details
Project type: SBO
Approved on: 04/04/2019
Duration: 31/08/2019 – 30/08/2023
Total project budget: €2.636.440
Subsidy: €2.636.440
Project Partners

PVCircular

PVC Fibreglass Sidestream Valorisation and Development of Circular Products

The PVCircular project will set up a cross-sector symbiotic relationship between companies with different end applications to add value to currently unused fibreglass/PVC waste streams by recycling internally and externally. In this way, all the companies will strive towards a more circular business model.

More information about this project will soon be provided on this page.

Project Details
Project type: O&O
Approved on: 13/12/2018
Duration: 1/01/2019 – 31/12/2020
Total budget: €1.597.524
Subsidy: €638.857
Project Partners

MATTER

Mechanical and Thermochemical Recycling of Mixed Plastic Waste

The MATTER project aims to evaluate the recycling of mixed (post-consumer) plastic waste streams and to use the generated data to develop a decision supporting framework. Technical and market-based criteria will be developed to support an optimal plastic waste management system. More specifically, the project will focus on the P+ fraction (all plastics packaging waste) of the extended P+MD collection and recycling scheme. Partners from across the whole value chain are included in the project consortium: separation and pretreatment (Indaver and Bulk.ID), mechanical recycling (Borealis and ECO-oh!) and thermochemical recycling (Indaver and Borealis). Organizations such Fost+, Plarebel and OVAM will be closely involved in the project execution. Sustainability analyses will enable the development of a decision-supporting framework.

By generating general knowledge on the recycling of mixed plastic waste and specific knowledge on the optimization of the P+MD recycling scheme, the valorization of the project is twofold. On short-term, the collection of an extra 50.000-150.000 tons of mixed plastic waste is expected for the P+MD scheme, most of which are packaging materials for which not always alternatives to incineration are available today. The results of the MATTER project will therefore be essential for the development of sustainable recycling solutions for this significant amount of waste. In the longer run, the general recycling knowledge can result in extra activities on the processing of other plastic waste fractions.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 18/04/2018
Duration: 30/04/2018 – 30/10/2020
Total budget: €1.669.761
Subsidy: €1.187.783
Project Partners

Publications
Detailed Analysis of the Composition of Selected Plastic Packaging Waste Products and Its Implications for Mechanical and Thermochemical Recycling
Martijn Roosen, Nicolas Mys, Marvin Kusenberg, Pieter Billen, Ann Dumoulin, Jo Dewulf, Kevin M. Van Geem, Kim Ragaert, and Steven De Meester
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020 – DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03371

Plastic packaging typically consists of a mixture of polymers and contains a whole range of components, such as paper, organic residue, halogens, and metals, which pose problems during recycling. Nevertheless, until today, limited detailed data are available on the full polymer composition of plastic packaging waste taking into account the separable packaging parts present in a certain waste stream, nor on their quantitative levels of (elemental) impurities. This paper therefore presents an unprecedented in-depth analysis of the polymer and elemental composition, including C, H, N, S, O, metals, and halogens, of commonly generated plastic packaging waste streams in European sorting facilities. Various analytical techniques are applied, including Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), polarized optical microscopy, ion chromatography, and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), on more than 100 different plastic packaging products, which are all separated into their different packaging subcomponents (e.g., a bottle into the bottle itself, the cap, and the label). Our results show that certain waste streams consist of mixtures of up to nine different polymers and contain various elements of the periodic table, in particular metals such as Ca, Al, Na, Zn, and Fe and halogens like Cl and F, occurring in concentrations between 1 and 3000 ppm. As discussed in the paper, both polymer and elemental impurities impede in many cases closed-loop recycling and require advanced pretreatment steps, increasing the overall recycling cost.

The full publication can be accessed for free at:
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.0c03371

Microstructural Contributions of Different Polyolefins to the Deformation Mechanisms of Their Binary Blends
Astrid Van Belle, Ruben Demets, Nicolas Mys, Karen Van Kets, Jo Dewulf, Kevin Van Geem, Steven De Meester, and Kim Ragaert
Polymers 2020, 12(5), 1171 – DOI: 10.3390/polym12051171

The mixing of polymers, even structurally similar polyolefins, inevitably leads to blend systems with a phase-separated morphology. Fundamentally understanding the changes in mechanical properties and occurring deformation mechanisms of these immiscible polymer blends, is important with respect to potential mechanical recycling. This work focuses on the behavior of binary blends of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polypropylene (PP) under tensile deformation and their related changes in crystallinity and morphology. All of these polymers plastically deform by shear yielding. When unmixed, the high crystalline polyolefins HDPE and PP both exhibit a progressive necking phenomenon. LDPE initiates a local neck before material failure, while LLDPE is characterized by a uniform deformation as well as clear strain hardening. LLDPE/LDPE and LLDPE/PP combinations both exhibit a clear-cut matrix switchover. Polymer blends LLDPE/LDPE, LDPE/HDPE, and LDPE/PP show transition forms with features of composing materials. Combining PP in an HDPE matrix causes a radical switch to brittle behavior.

The full publication can be accessed for free at:
https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/12/5/1171

RECYCOAT

Recycling of Coated Materials

In a circular economy, recycling of products after use is key. Currently merely 30% of our plastic and textile waste is being recycled. The vast majority of recyclable products are one-component materials. Coated and laminated materials are difficult to recycle because of their hybrid nature: the coating layer is difficult to separate from the bulk material or the coating layer can be cured to prevent melting or dissolution in conventional solvents.

The current routes for end-of-life of complex-composite products are mainly focusing on burning or converting into RDF pellets (Refuse Driven Fuel). The energy content and presence of a fusible fraction (carrier and possibly also coating) explain why this waste disposal method is widely spread. Another commonly used route is mechanical reduction via shredders and subsequent use as filler material.

The RECYCOAT project aims to investigate various technologies to separate the different layers present in complex coated or laminated (multilayer) materials (in particular textiles and plastics). The focus is on developing a good design (eco-design) of the multi-layered products and/or altering the chemistry of the coating or adhesive layer. The material should be developed in such a way that maximum separation (i.e. recycling) is made possible: the different layers present in the complex material must be completely separable from each other.

An example of such a technology is an adapted adhesive layer of a carpet allowing separation in boiling water. After 30 seconds the secondary backing is split off.

Project Details
Project type: VIS
Approved on: 04/12/2017
Duration: 31/01/2018 – 29/02/2020
Total budget: €422.311
Subsidy: €337.849
Project Partners

CO2PERATE

All renewable CCU based on formic acid integrated in an industrial microgrid

The 2030 framework for climate and energy policies contains a binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions in EU territory by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and has the ambition to further reduce them by 80-95% by 2050. As theoretical limits of efficiency are being reached and process-related emissions are unavoidable in some sectors, there is an urgent need to develop efficient carbon capture and utilisation systems. In the past, most research has focused on the capture and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), also referred to as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). CCS is a technology directed to CO2 abatement and removes carbon from the economy. In addition to CCS, CO2 can also be transformed into valuable added products. This is known as carbon capture and utilization (CCU). Since the use of CO2 as a carbon feedstock has the potential to create attractive business cases for production of chemicals, more and more novel CCU technologies are being reported and the range of CO2-derived products is expanding. However, these emerging technologies all have different technology readiness levels (TRL) and a comparison for different technologies is missing.

The main objective of the project is the development of technologies for the conversion of CO2 to value-added chemicals using catalysis and renewable energy. To benchmark, compare and develop the various technologies, the formation of formic acid was selected as the initial target. Formic acid is the first product of the hydrogenation of CO2 towards value-added chemicals. In the project, the development of 4 catalytic routes (homogenous & heterogeneous catalysis, photochemical plasma-catalysis, electrochemical catalysis and bio-catalysis) is planned, enabling the sustainable synthesis of formic acid and more complex value-added chemicals (Single Cell Proteins, etc.). Sustainability is the common denominator of the different routes investigated in the project as they will enable the creation of a circular economy using (i) abundant reagents: CO2, H2O and electricity produced by surplus of renewable energies production through electrolysis and (ii) sustainable catalysts: earth-abundant metals will be used in homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, in photochemical and electro-catalytic syntheses, and set-ups will fully exploit renewable electricity. Finally, the potential of enzymatic catalysts (microbes and bacteria) will be exploited to use nitrogen from waste water sources to produce organic molecules of added value and microbial proteins for feed/food applications. At the end of the project, the partners want to be able to select the best technology  (CO2 source, purity and intended product, availability of excess electricity) for the conversion of CO2. A decision support framework will be developed to support this decision process. Via a techno-economic analysis, the different catalytic routes towards formic acid will be benchmarked against each other and against the classical process via base-catalyzed carbonylation of methanol.

The second objective is the valorization of formic acid. On the one hand, formic acid will be used as a building block for the bio-catalytic production of value-added chemicals such as Single Cell Proteins. On the other hand, formic acid is considered as a H2 carrier to propose a circular economy with CO2 and H2/electricity generated from renewable sources (POWER to CHEMICALS): when renewable sources (solar, wind, …) produce energy surplus, this energy can be converted in H2 (through electrolysis) that is chemically converted with CO2 into formic acid. When utilizing the H2 upon conversion of formic acid, CO2 is released and can be used recycled/reused with a new supply of H2 for the formation of formic acid generating a true circular approach.



Advisory Board
This project has the ambition to strengthen the position of Flanders in terms of research into CO2-based processes and materials. The relevance of this cluster SBO project is further emphasized by an industrial advisory board (pictured below), who are eager to implement the results and create economic valorisation. Current members of the advisory board include: 3M, Alco Biofuel, Arcelor Mittal, Avecom, Borealis, Cargill, Eastman, ENGIE Laborelec, Hydrogenics, INEOS, Messer, Monsanto, Nutrition Sciences and Smart Bioprocess.


Project Details
Project type: cSBO
Approved on: 14/12/2017
Duration: 01/03/2018 – 01/03/2022
Total budget: €2.612.101
Subsidy: €2.612.101
Project Partners

CAPRA

Upgrading steel mill off gas to caproic acid and derivatives using anaerobic technology
One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere to minimize/mitigate the impact of global climate change. The European Union is taking up a leading role by imposing stringent emission regulations to all member states and industries. The European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) forms the basis of the EU’s policy to combat climate change, and requires industries in Europe to decrease their GHG emissions year by year, to reach a 43% lower emission level in 2030, compared to 2005. A crucial aspect to achieve the emission reduction is the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, in which the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere is avoided.

In this context, the possibility to capture CO2 at point sources, which account for 45% of the emissions in Europe, and transforming it into added-value products, is gaining attention. The steel industry sector is one of the largest GHG contributors. In their strive for GHG emission reduction, strategies such as improvements in energy efficiency, resource recycling, utilization and recovery have already been implemented, but further emission reduction can only be achieved by capturing CO2 emissions. Valorisation of CO2 into chemical building blocks is possible through biological or chemical processes. Biotechnology is in particular a very interesting way to valorise these waste gases due to their low energy requirements and mild reaction conditions. Traditional disadvantages of biotechnology, such as low yields, low substrate affinity and low selectivity have been overcome in recent years.

ArcelorMittal is exploring the use of syngas fermentation technology as part of the CO2 emission reduction strategy, with pilot projects at the plant in Gent. New fermentation technologies of industrial gases have been tested at pilot scale and are ready for scale up. Many of them are focussing on the fuel market to take off their fermentation products, and are facing a low revenue from the end products, which sometimes require an energy-intensive distillation process to meet the quality standards. The CAPRA technology is offering an alternative to avoid this expensive distillation, and turns the fermentation products into a high value chemical.

The composition of syngas fermentation broth, a dilute mixture of ethanol and acetic acid, with a high ethanol/acetic acid ratio, makes it an ideal substrate for further biological upgrading through anaerobic conversions. Ethanol/acetic acid mixtures can be transformed to medium-chain carboxylic acids by biological chain elongation, resulting in a bio-oil with higher value (more than double) compared to fuel. This bio-oil, composed mainly of caproic and caprylic acid, readily phase-separates, circumventing energy-intensive distillation, and facilitating downstream processing of the final product. The bio-oil can be further processed in the chemical industry, where sources of caproic and caprylic acid are rare, while interest is growing.

As of today, the feasibility of converting syngas effluents to C6-C8-rich oils has been proven through a limited number of studies and solely at lab-scale. To pave the road for the development of a process to upgrade syngas fermentation effluent via biological chain elongation, a number of research questions and challenges need to be addressed. Also, little is known about the chemical conversion routes to produce high-value, marketable products from the generated bio-oil. Furthermore, the optimal approach to assess the sustainability and profitability of new processes in the bio-economy is lacking.

The CAPRA project brings together industrial and academic partners with the required expertise to solve these research challenges. The CAPRA project will:
  • Assess the critical operational parameters of the biological chain elongation process to determine 1) the best product recovery system; 2) the required nutrient additions for the chain elongation process; and 3) the optimal operational conditions (CMET, OWS);
  • Scale-up the chain elongation process to lab-pilot level, to upgrade real syngas fermentation effluent to a medium-chain carboxylic acid bio-oil at the kilogram scale, in a continuous process (OWS, CMET, ArcelorMittal);
  • Transform the produced bio-oil into high-quality added-value products for different applications such as plasticisers (Proviron);
  • Evaluate the process value chain based on its sustainability and profitability, using newly developed tools (EnVOC, VITO, OWS; with input from ArcelorMittal, CMET, Proviron).
The research carried out within CAPRA will bring the valorisation of syngas fermentation products well beyond the state-of-the-art, delivering to the steel industry a technology to capture CO2 into added-value products. For instance, the coupling of the CAPRA process to a syngas fermenter converting the off-gas of AM Gent would result in the production of 35,000 tonne caproic acid oil per year, showing the high potential of the CAPRA value chain. Also, CAPRA develops a new biotechnological platform that can be translated to other industrial sectors, such as waste management. This has the potential to generate employment and strengthen the role of Flanders as a leading region in the bio-economy.

Project Details
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 26/10/2017
Duration: 01/01/2018 – 31/12/2020
Total budget: €1.023.079
Subsidy: €521.334
Project Partners