Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble joined in closed-loop recycling pilot project for single-use face-masks

Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble joined in closed-loop recycling pilot project for single-use face-masks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, SABIC and Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced their collaboration in an innovative circular economy pilot project which aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling of single-use facemasks, said the company.

Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns especially when they are thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces, including - parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

"Recognizing the challenge, we set out to explore how used facemasks could potentially be returned into the value chain of new facemask production,” says Dr. Peter Dziezok, Director R&D Open Innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. Therefore, we teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s T&I specialists to investigate potential solutions."

As part of the pilot, P&G collected used facemasks worn by employees or given to visitors at its manufacturing and research sites in Germany. Although those masks are always disposed of responsibly, there was no ideal route in place to recycle them efficiently. To help demonstrate a potential step change in this scenario, special collection bins were set up, and the collected used masks were sent to Fraunhofer for further processing in a dedicated research pyrolysis plant.

"A single-use medical product such as a face mask has high hygiene requirements, both in terms of disposal and production. Mechanical recycling, would have not done the job” explains Dr. Alexander Hofmann, Head of Department Recycling Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. “In our solution, therefore, the masks were first automatically shredded and then thermochemically converted to pyrolysis oil. Pyrolysis breaks the plastic down into molecular fragments under pressure and heat, which will also destroy any residual pollutants or pathogens, such as the Coronavirus. In this way it is possible to produce feedstock for new plastics in virgin quality that can also meet the requirements for medical products” adds Hofmann, who is also Head of Research Department “Advanced Recycling” at Fraunhofer CCPE.

The pyrolysis oil was then sent to SABIC to be used as feedstock for the production of new PP resin. The resins were produced using the widely recognized principle of mass balance to combine the alternative feedstock with fossil-based feedstock in the production process. Mass balance is considered a crucial bridge between today’s linear economy and the more sustainable circular economy of the future.

"The high-quality circular PP polymer obtained in this pilot clearly demonstrates that closed-loop recycling is achievable through active collaboration of players from across the value chain,” emphasizes Mark Vester, Global Circular Economy Leader at SABIC. “The circular material is part of our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, aimed at preventing valuable used plastic from becoming waste and at mitigating the depletion of fossil resources."

Finally, to close the loop, the PP polymer was supplied to P&G, where it was processed into non-woven fibers material. “This pilot project has helped us to assess if the close loop approach could work for hygienic and medical grade plastics.” says Hansjorg Reick, P&G Senior Director Open Innovation. “Of course, further work is needed but the results so far have been very encouraging”.

The entire closed loop pilot project from facemask collection to production was developed and implemented within only seven months. The transferability of advanced recycling to other feedstocks and chemical products is being further researched at Fraunhofer CCPE.

As per MRC, BASF SE (Germany), Sabic (Saudi Arabia) and Linde (Germany) signed an agreement to develop electrically heated cracking furnaces. Steam cracking units require significant amounts of energy to break down hydrocarbons into olefins and aromatics. This reaction takes place at a temperature near 850 ° C. Today, these temperatures are achieved by burning fossil fuels. The project aims to reduce CO2 emissions by providing the process with electricity. Using electricity from renewable sources, a groundbreaking technology will reduce CO2 emissions by 90%.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's PP deliveries to the Russian market were 523,900 tonnes in January-April 2021, up by 55% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas shipments of PP random copolymers decreased.

Covestro collaborates with Brazilian footwear manufacturer Beira Rio for more sustainable material solutions

Covestro collaborates with Brazilian footwear manufacturer Beira Rio for more sustainable material solutions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German plastics group Covestro AG (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) and the Brazilian footwear manufacturer Calcados Beira Rio are jointly developing concept shoes with more sustainable material solutions, according to GV.

An elegant women's shoe and a comfortable casual shoe are used as examples to illustrate the variety of possibilities – from upper to lining, from sole to heel.

Both shoes feature Covestro products derived from alternative raw materials such as CO2, biomass and plastic waste. These are a valuable resource as they provide carbon that can be put to use beneficially in a circular economy, instead of being released into the atmosphere as waste gas, said the company. Covestro said it is pioneering the use of such raw materials to reduce its dependence on fossil materials and increase the sustainability of the value chain.

Together with Calcados Beira Rio, Covestro has developed this women's concept shoe in which various more sustainable material solutions have been implemented.

One example is the upper and inner lining of the two shoes. The base is a soft polyurethane foam that ensures a good fit and comfortable footfall. Here, a polyol was used that contains up to 20 % carbon dioxide and is marketed by Covestro under the name cardyon. The CO2 replaces some of the fossil raw materials previously used, but does not compromise the favourable properties of conventionally produced foam, said the company.

Two different types of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) are found in the outer soles of both women's shoes. One of them is also based on cardyon; while in the other, 60 % of the carbon content is derived from biomass. As a result, both products have a lower CO2 footprint than fossil-based TPU and help close the carbon cycle.

Covestro said it is also focusing on the recovery of plastic waste as part of its strategic programme to support the circular economy, and is working with partners to develop new value-adding cycles to achieve this. For example, used polycarbonate products are shredded, cleaned, possibly mixed with new plastic and reused as recycled Makrolon. In women's shoes, this lends lasting strength to the insole and heel.

As MRC informed previously, earlier this month, DSM completed the sale of the resins & functional materials businesses to Covestro for EUR1.6 billion (USD1.9 billion), including EUR1.4 billion in cash.

We remind that Covestro closed the sale of its European polycarbonates (PC) sheets business to the Munich-based Serafin Group effective January 2, 2020. This includes key management and sales functions throughout Europe as well as production sites in Belgium and Italy.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PC granules (excluding imports and exports to/from Belarus) totalled 34,000 tonnes in the first four months of 2021, up by 11% year on year (30,500 tonnes a year earlier).

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc. With 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion, Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,500 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).

Tosaf launches a line of BOPE additives

Tosaf launches a line of BOPE additives

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Tosaf, Alon Tavor, Israel has developed new additive masterbatches that are specially tailored to the orientation process of PE films, said the company.

This portfolio currently includes slip, antiblock, antistatic and antifog additives. The option of using them individually or in combination gives manufacturers a high degree of flexibility in meeting specific product requirements.

In close cooperation with Bruckner Maschinenbau, a manufacturer of film stretching systems based in Siegsdorf, Tosaf has validated the good processing properties of the BOPE masterbatches. As these pilot tests have shown, films made with them meet high optical and functional requirements without compromising mechanical properties.

In addition, the masterbatch manufacturer has demonstrated the good processing properties that result from using the new additives on a production line. The results also show the suitability of the BOPE additives for the production of inline monoaxially stretched films (Machine Direction Orientated, MDO), which are emerging as a further production trend.

As per MRC, Biaxplen company (part of SIBUR Holding) developed a metallized film of the HBV.M brand, which has high barrier properties. There are only a few companies all over the world capable of producing films with such characteristics. The new brand will be produced at the Kursk plant Biaksplena. The production capacity will be 500 tons per year. The launch of the film is scheduled for the second half of 2021.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's PP deliveries to the Russian market were 523,900 tonnes in January-April 2021, up by 55% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas shipments of PP random copolymers decreased.

Tosaf holds a full range of standard additives and compounds for the production of BOPP films, as well as exclusive innovations such as a high processability matt compound, scratch-free matt compound, high gloss pearl, permanent hot slip, and anti-microbial MB.


NKNK revenue in the first quarter increased by 44%

NKNK revenue in the first quarter increased by 44%

MOSCOW (MRC) - The revenue of Nizhnekamskneftekhim (NKNKH) in January-March set a new record of 54.9 billion rubles, according to BUSINESS Online.

The impressive results were achieved mainly due to the favorable situation on the world markets, and NKNK is forecast to have strong performance in the coming quarters already due to growing production amid recovery in demand for petrochemical products.

After the "covid" 2020, a number of economic sectors headed "north", recovering from a forced pause. Of the leading Tatarstan enterprises, it is worth highlighting, first of all, petrochemists, whose affairs after last year's fall are on the rise again. The revenue of the largest Russian manufacturer of synthetic rubbers Nizhnekamskneftekhim in the first quarter of 2020 increased by 44% to a record 54.9 billion rubles, follows from the statements of the joint-stock company.

Last year, 39% of the plant's proceeds came from synthetic rubbers, 33% - from plastics, 26% - from other petrochemical products and about 2% - from other products.

An extremely favorable situation for NKNK in the first quarter developed in the plastics market. Thus, the average value of the PPI-ST index, which reflects prices for large-scale plastics, increased by 1.5 times: from 87 thousand rubles per ton in January-March 2020 to 130 thousand rubles per ton in January-March 2021. Among the main reasons are the recovery of the world economy, the rise in world prices for plastics.

As for the situation on the rubber market, the fight against the pandemic and widespread lockdowns affected it in two ways. On the one hand, the shutdown of a number of car factories and the decline in business activity reduced the demand for tires of all stripes. On the other hand, there was an increased demand for rubber gloves and even a shortage of labor for the largest producer of natural rubber - Thailand.

In the first quarter of this year, the product line of NKNKh was supplemented with new thermoplastic elastomers, which are distinguished by their high strength and the possibility of repeated processing without harm to the environment. These materials are used for road paving, which improves the quality and durability of the asphalt. Also thermoplastic elastomer is used in the production of roofing materials.

In January, a new production of styrene-divinyl rubber (DSSK) was launched. The complex was built in 2019-2020.

NKNK's revenue growth was influenced not only by the recovery in demand for the company's products: synthetic rubbers, polymers, and other petrochemical products, but also by a significant rise in prices, especially in export markets. For example, prices for standard thermoplastics have almost doubled since the beginning of the year. A year ago, in the first quarter of 2020, there was a decline in the industry, while now it is on the rise. At the same time, domestic prices for raw materials and regulated tariffs for energy resources rose less noticeably.

The largest petrochemical holdings in Russia - SIBUR and TAIF - in April announced plans to combine their assets. Within the framework of the merger, a company will be created on the basis of SIBUR Holding, in which the current shareholders of TAIF PSC will receive a 15% stake in exchange for the transfer of a controlling stake in a group consisting of petrochemical and energy enterprises. The remaining stake in TAIF can be subsequently purchased by the merged company. The merged company of SIBUR and TAIF will include the parent company of the Tatarstan group, as well as two of its chemical plants and an energy company, including NKH and KOS.

According to the ICIS-MRC Price Report, Russian factories have reduced the cost of PS this month under pressure from external markets and the declining cost of raw materials. Nizhnekamskneftekhim has reduced the cost of the polymer by more than the rest of the plants.

PJSC "Nizhnekamskneftekhim" (NKNKH) is one of the largest Russian producers of petrochemical products. The production complex of the company includes ten factories of the main production and ten departments (railway transport, main ethylene pipelines, etc.). NKNKh produces over 120 types of chemical products, including synthetic rubber, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, surfactants. Nizhnekamskneftekhim is part of TAIF Group.

Reliance to invest over USD10 bln in clean energy over 3 years in pursuit to become net carbon zero company by 2035

Reliance to invest over USD10 bln in clean energy over 3 years in pursuit to become net carbon zero company by 2035

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India's Reliance Industries (RIL), operator of the world's biggest refining complex at Jamnagar in western India, will invest USD10.1 billion in clean energy over three years in a pursuit to become a net carbon zero company by 2035, reported Reuters.

Reliance's plan mirrors strategies of global oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc that have set a goal to become net zero carbon by 2050 amid pressure from investors and climate activists.

"The world is entering a new energy era, which is going to be highly disruptive. The age of fossil fuels, which powered economic growth globally for nearly three centuries, cannot continue much longer," Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Asia's richest man, said at a shareholder meeting on Thursday.

The oil-to-telecoms conglomerate will invest 600 billion rupees to build four 'giga factories' at Jamnagar for production of solar cells and module, energy storage batteries, fuel cells and green hydrogen, Ambani said. It will also invest 150 billion rupees in value chain and other partnerships relating to its new renewable energy business, he said, adding a transformation of legacy business into sustainable and net zero carbon business will provide growing returns over several decades.

Reliance will also build solar capacities of at least 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, accounting for over a fifth of India's target of installing 450 GW by the end of this decade.

Reliance's entry into the renewable energy business in India will put it in competition with companies such as Adani Green Energy Ltd and Goldman Sachs-backed ReNew Power.

As MRC informed before, amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 in the country, RIL has increased output of medical oxygen to 1,000 mt/day, making it India's largest producer of medical-grade liquid oxygen from a single location. Reliance ramped up production from near-zero to 1,000 tonnes per day and now produces over 11% of the country's oxygen demand. It has rallied its resources to meet the daily need of over 1 lakh people every day.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 744,130 tonnes in the first four month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, PP deliveries to the Russian market were 523,900 tonnes in January-April 2021, up by 55% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas shipments of PP random copolymers decreased.

Reliance Industries is one of the world's largest producers of polymers. The company produces polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride and other petrochemical products.