Brussels – Recticel and Covestro are among PU companies taking part in recycling and carbon capture projects funded the EU.
Recticel will coordinate the EU’s Horizon 2020 PUReSmart project to economically recycle polyurethane. The four-year project was launched on 1 January 2019.
This project is built around nine companies from six different countries. It has EUR 6m funding to try to find a way to make thermoset polyurethane foams efficiently recyclable.
The group said ‘compared with recycling thermoplastic materials, recycling thermoset polyurethane is a much more challenging process. The PUReSmart process will explore new methods, technologies and approaches to overcome these challenges and transform PU into a true circular material.’
The project is aiming to convert 90% of end-of-life PU into valuable inputs for new and existing materials. A key thrust of the project is to develop smart sorting technologies to generate dedicated feedstocks.
There is also a goal to use these to develop a new material ‘that merges the durability of thermosets with the circularity of thermoplastics.’
Covestro is participating to find new pathways that can recover PU building blocks. BT-Wolfgang Binder will be taking part. It specialises in sensor-based smart sorting that separates waste streams into different fractions.
Ecoinnovazione, an Italian company also supports this strand of the project. It will develop a programme of sustainable assessment and strategies which account for the social aspects of recycling.
Brand new building blocks for polyurethane will be developed and scaled up for production by WeylChem InnoTec, if the project is fully successful. Ghent University is also working on this strand. It aims to help develop new molecules for recyclable materials. The Univesidad De Castilla La Mancha will supply experience in recycling PU materials and expertise in scaling-up chemical processes.
Overall project management and communications will be provided by Ayming, a French company.
Meanwhile, Covestro is involved in another project.
Called Carbon4PUR it will investigate how to scale up processes to convert carbon dioxide produced in steel into polyols. One of the projects key aims is to develop technology which can do this from mill gas streams in steel processing without separating CO and CO2. This would make the process much more economical, the Consortium said.
Fos would be a good location for the project, said the consortium. This is because AcelorMittal has a large steel pant there which could supply gas to the nearby Covestro facility. Recticel could use the Covestro polyols to make foam.
Alternatively, Megara Resins, Greek firm which makes coatings could incorporate polyols in its products.
Partners in the project include RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, Decema, Imperial College London, Gent and Leiden Universities. The French atomic industry association, South Pole Carbon Asset management; the port of Marseilles; and, PNO consultants are also involved in the project.
Markus Steilemann, Covestro CEO said of the project: ‘We must consider waste as a resource. Together, we can make or use of alternative carbon sources like CO2 to close the carbon loop and save direct fossil resources such as crude oil.’
The consortium of 14 companies and universites involved in the Carbon4PUR project is organising a field trip to Fos-Sur-Mer, near Marseilles, France in March.