INEOS Styrolution reveals progress of ResolVe project on chemical recycling of polystyrene
- Polystyrene shows excellent recyclability
- Effective chemical recycling of polystyrene is tolerant to contamination by other polymers, such as polyolefins
- Details will be presented in a poster session at the Bayreuth Polymer Symposium
INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, today discloses first results of the ResolVe project. This project addresses research related to chemical recycling of polystyrene.
The ResolVe project team now has proof of concept of closed loop recycling. The process converts waste polystyrene back to pure styrene via a depolymerisation process, followed by a polymerisation process resulting in a quality identical to virgin polystyrene. Polystyrene is one of very few polymers that can be converted back into its specific monomer. Technical properties such as its low ceiling temperature enable recycling under conditions that can be achieved in a twin-screw extruder. The results show that polystyrene is very well recyclable.
Fundamental questions covered in the ResolVe project include the yield of styrenics in the chemical recycling process and the impact of non-styrenic waste contaminations. It turns out that the chemical recycling process for polystyrene is sensitive to PET contamination. On the other hand, it is hardly impacted by contamination with polyolefins of up to ten percent.
These findings not only allow INEOS Styrolution to address the next step of the project – the pilot phase. They also prepare the grounds for scaling the process for industrial use, and they allow to give guidance to waste sorters.
Norbert Niessner, Director Global R&D/ Intellectual Property at INEOS Styrolution, comments: “The ResolVe project gives us an insight into chemical recycling. As a result, we can clearly say: Polystyrene is indeed made for recycling. Together with today’s progress in sorting technologies of post-consumer waste, I am confident that there is no longer a reason for polystyrene not to be recycled.”
Details of the findings will be presented at the Bayreuth Polymer Symposium (September 22-24, 2019).
The ResolVe project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education, BMBF, is jointly executed by INEOS Styrolution together with Neue Materialien GmbH Bayreuth as well as with two institutes of the University of Aachen (RWTH) – the Institute for Processing and Recycling (Institut für Aufbereitung und Recycling, I.A.R.) and the Institute of Plastics Processing (Institut für Kunststoffverarbeitung, IKV). It also receives contributions from INEOS Manufacturing Deutschland GmbH in Köln.