Licella, Armstrong Chemicals form JV for plastic-to-chemicals project, set for the UK in 2018

March 3, 2017 |

In Washington, on stage at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, Licella (through its subsidiary Cat-HTR Plastics) and Armstrong Chemicals unveiled a joint venture to build the world’s first commercial-scale hydrothermal upgrading plants for End of Life Plastic to chemicals. The plant will come on line in 2018.

The JV expands an Agency Agreement signed by the two partners last September, and follows a series of extensive and successful trials at Licella’s large pilot plant on the NSW central coast in Australia.

The financing for the first plant is in place with funding for an additional three plants progressing well. The initial plant is scheduled to be operational in 2018 and will be located on the Wilton industrial complex in the North East of England. It will be capable of upgrading up to 20,000 tonnes of End of Life Plastic using the Cat-HTR platform.

By utilising End of Life Plastic the first plant will be diverting plastic from landfill and recycling a previously unrecyclable stream. In many countries, including the UK, a significant charge is levied upon companies to dispose of End of Life plastics, which up until now were not economically viable to recycle.

Licella CEO Len Humprheys noted that “the joint venture will earn a licence fee and royalties from the projects, with plans for a global roll out. Together, Licella, through Cat-HTR Plastics and Armstrong Chemicals, are excited to be pioneering the field of hydrothermal upgrading within the End of Life Plastic industry. We believe that Licella’s Cat-HTR platform has the potential to revolutionise how we approach a zero waste economy around the World. We will be creating valuable new commercial products from otherwise waste materials, helping companies avoid significant waste disposal levies and helping building a bridge to a lower carbon future.”

Why plastics?

Sorting plastics is challenging and expensive. They vary considerably, and therefore have traditionally needed to be sorted to be recycled effectively. End of life Plastic includes all the remnants of various mixed plastics and paper and labelling that is left post-recovery of the recyclable components.

The technology backstory

Cat-HTR produces high value chemicals with a diverse use via breaking down plastics e.g. Polyethylene, Polypropylene, and Polystyrene into low molecular weight compounds with little ash production.  It can process mixed plastics, overcoming sorting issues, simplifying plastic recycling and reducing costs. Also, it does not produce toxic dioxins – a problem with pyrolysis technologies with chlorine in PVC forming a salt in the water phase — and it does not require specialist gas clean up (reduced Capex and Opex).

The Armstrong Energy backstory

Armstrong Energy is an FCA-authorised investment manager with more than US$500 million of assets under management, predominantly in power generation, real estate and commodity processing. Armstrong manages assets for a range of major financial institutions, specialist investment houses, family offices and high net worth investors. The company is based in London.

More on the story.

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