Braskem advances in research into chemical recycling of plastics

Braskem advances in research into chemical recycling of plastics

September 15, 2020
Press Release: Braskem

Committed to developing innovative solutions that promote the circular economy and sustainable development, Braskem has taken another important step in enhancing the technology for the chemical recycling of post-consumer plastics

The company, which already had been working in partnership with the Polymers Engineering Laboratory (EngePol) of the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Postgraduate Studies and Engineering Research of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE/UFRJ) and with the training institute SENAI CETIQT, through the SENAI Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers Institute, now has signed a cooperation agreement for the next research phases with the same academic institutions, as well as with the company Fábrica Carioca de Catalisadores (FCC S.A.).

The contract was obtained after Braskem participated in a selection process conducted by National Industrial Learning Service (Senai) through a public competitive bid process. The investments in this research phase are estimated at R$2.7 million, which includes the financial and human resources of the institutions and companies involved.

Since 2018, Braskem has been working on capturing efficiency gains in the technology for pyrolysis, a process that breaks down plastic resin molecules with heat to transform them once again into raw material that can be reintroduced into the plastics production chain. The project aims to develop catalysts to improve the quality of the products created in the chemical plastics recycling process.

“We identified, last year, after our initial first studies into chemical recycling, the need to develop new catalysts,” said Gus Hutras, head of the Process Technology team at Braskem. “After evaluating some options, we reached out to FCC S.A., the catalysts supply leader of FCC in the South American market, to get involved in the studies already in progress with SENAI CETIQT and COPPE/UFRJ. Now that we have an even more complete body of research and access to adequate technologies, we will be able to accelerate progress in the development of a chemical recycling solution that is technically and economically viable. The project, which for now is experimental, already shows great potential for causing a positive impact on society, the circular economy and sustainability.”

“The strategic planning of FCC S.A. covers explicitly the development of new products and markets,” said Sidney Martins, new business coordinator at FCC S.A.. “We have identified priority applications in the circular economy and in the bioeconomy, which are areas with enormous growth potential. We are very confident in the results of this project in conjunction with Braskem, SENAI CETIQT and COPPE/UFRJ for the chemical recycling of plastics that are not urban solid waste.”

Fabiana Quiroga, head of the Circular Economy at Braskem in South America, highlighted the main advantage of investing in chemical recycling. “With the process, discarded plastic waste is processed and transformed into raw material once again, which is used to make new plastic resins. We are moving forward on this path of connecting research and innovation to create sustainable solutions. We want to constantly be developing new businesses and initiatives that increase the value of plastic waste in order to close the cycle as a whole.”

Braskem’s partner research and academic institutions in the effort also are aligned with the goal of contributing to the circular economy. “We have the mission of promoting the sustainability and competitiveness of Brazil’s chemical industry through the development of new products and processes,” said Paulo Coutinho, manager of the SENAI Innovation in Biosynthetics and Fibers Institute of SENAI CETIQT. “In the circular economy, we are positioned as a strategic link for the development of solutions that have positive impacts on the businesses of our partner companies and on society as a whole.”

José Carlos Pinto, a full professor in the Chemical Engineering Program at COPPE/UFRJ and coordinator of the Polymerization Engineering Laboratory (EngePol), also believes in this joining of forces. “Seeking to establish and consolidate circular economy concepts in the plastics industry, we have been working in recent years on chemical recycling processes, with thermal and catalytic pyrolysis the most promising technique,” he said. “The partnership with Braskem, FCC S.A. and SENAI CETIQT is an excellent opportunity to take this research to a whole new scale.”

Early Bird Registration is now open for the Plastic Free World Virtual Summit, which takes place live and on-demand on 9-10 November 2020. A two-day pass is available at the specially reduced rate of €499 (saving €200). Discounts are available for group bookings. Click here to secure your virtual seat

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