Ioniqa Circular PET Solution

Introduction

Ioniqa is a cleantech spin-off from the Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and is specialized in “magnetic smart processes. With this proprietary technology Ioniqa found a circular solution for all kinds and colours of PET Polyester waste. We can close the loop for all PET waste in the EU.

Resume

Ioniqa discovered the key to ‘the Eternal PET Bottle’. PET Polyester (PET) is a popular plastic widely used for water and soft drink bottles, food packages, clothing and carpets. We have developed an innovative process to recycle all types and colours of PET waste into high quality pure raw materials, suitable for any new PET application. This process can be repeated endlessly with no degradation in quality. The best news is that the recycled raw materials can compete in both cost and quality with ‘virgin’ raw materials, produced from crude oil. The circular solution fits seamlessly into the existing PET production infrastructure and remains profitable in a market with low oil prices.

The plastic problem

Plastics are indispensable in our modern economy, due to its unparalleled features and low costs. More than 311 million tons of plastics is produced each year, of which 61 million tons – roughly 20 % – consists of a variety of PET plastics. In current practice 90 % of all post-consumer PET waste is incinerated, landfilled or dumped in nature. The main reason: the inability to extract colour and other impurities from PET waste. An unimaginable loss for both environment and economy.

The recycling problem

Primary raw materials are becoming scarce, which results in a rapidly growing market for recycled or “secondary” raw materials. A major challenge is to recreate high-quality raw materials from plastic waste. Most of the plastic waste – if collected at all – is downcycled. The current mechanical recycling techniques cannot compete with oil-based PET in costs nor quality.

Profitable Circular solution

After years of research Ioniqa found a profitable circular solution for the millions of tons of PET waste. Our unique process uses ‘magnetic smart materials’ and nanotechnology to ‘depolymerize’ PET polymers into their original building blocks: pure monomers. These recycled ‘virgin-quality’ raw materials can compete with oil-based PET raw materials in both quality and costs, even with low oil prices.

How it works

Mixed PET waste is shredded into flakes and then dissolved in an ionic liquid with our MSM-catalyst containing magnetic nanoparticles of iron oxide. The mixed fluid is heated to a relatively low temperature (< 200 °C) at atmospheric pressure, then the PET waste starts to ‘depolymerize’ to its pure monomers, the raw materials for new PET. After this chemical process, the colourants and other contaminants are magnetically separated. You can watch the Ioniqa Process on video here

Scaling up a game changer

In 2016, Ioniqa scaled up its circular recycling technology to a 1,000 Liter Demo facility in the Port of Rotterdam. Since then, several multinational Brand Owners have succesfully tested their own waste samples at our facility. This year, 2017, we’re planning to develop our first 10,000 ton production plant in the Netherlands. Once operational, this ‘proven case’ can then be copied and scaled up worldwide through licensing.

Value from waste

Due to the high quality and cost effective outcome of the Ioniqa Chemical Recycling Process, we are able to create cradle-to-cradle PET that is disconnected from its primary source: crude oil. This means the PET-industry will be less dependent on oil, consumers get access to sustainabable PET products, PET waste becomes a valuable secondary resource.