Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic are deposited in the world's oceans. These lost resources are worth around 80 billion US dollars. The problem: up to now, most plastic has been incinerated and only 14% of it has been recycled. Mixed waste continues to increase worldwide, and in the case of non-technical plastics, 100 to 1,000 times the amount. Now, chemical recycling company Mura Technology Limited is offering new solutions.
The patented Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (abbreviated: Cat-HTR) technology was developed in 2007 and tested within a pilot plant in Australia for 10 years. With Cat-HTR technology, plastic waste that was previously impossible to recycle can be converted back into oil within 20 minutes—this is more resource-efficient than the extraction of fossil fuels from the ground. Only water, high temperatures and pressure are used to separate the cells and join them together again. One plant alone can process 20,000 metric tons of plastic per year and reduce CO2 output by 28,180 metric tons. This corresponds to the annual consumption of 5,983 cars or the annual energy needs of 4,914 households.
The Cat-HTR technology converts the unsorted waste into oil within 20 minutes in a way that saves resources. The crude oil can later be used as lubricating grease, wax or for producing new, high-quality plastic granules.
In January 2020, igus® invested five million US dollars into Mura Technology Limited and the construction of the first commercial Cat-HTR plant. The plant is currently being planned at the site of Wilton International in Teesside, in the north-east of England. Construction is set to start in 2020.
The process is planned as follows: waste companies supply the plastic waste to achieve their recycling goals. Oil is then obtained at a similar price to fossil oil. In the first phase, a total of four Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactors are to be built in Teesside to process more than 80,000 metric tons of plastic waste every year. After that, Mura is planning to issue licenses all over the world and build more plants.