CIRCULAR BTX: Anellotech’s aromatics from mixed waste plastics, now available

December 1, 2022 |

News has arrived from the gang at Pearl River that Anellotech is offering drum-quantity product samples of aromatics produced from recycled mixed waste plastics. The recycled benzene, toluene and xylenes, known as CIRCULAR BTX, will be available to current and potential commercial partners.

The production story

The samples are made at Anellotech’s TCat-8 facility — a fully automated, 30-meter-tall pilot plant located inside Trecora’s Silsbee, Texas facility— during ongoing studies demonstrating Anellotech’s Plas-TCat catalytic pyrolysis technology. TCat-8 can operate 24/7 and converts a representative mixed waste plastics feedstock — including all major plastic types, with the exception of PVC, into BTX, light olefins and paraffins.

That plant’s nameplate capacity is 0.5 tons per day, and Plas-TCat’s scalable fluidized bed reactor design provides a path to larger commercial production plants capable of addressing substantial global recycling goals. Plas-TCat employs one thermal catalytic reactor to convert a broad range of mixed waste plastics into the same valuable chemical feedstocks used today to make virgin plastics.

These include benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX) as well as ethylene, propylene and butylene (light olefins). Based on a proprietary catalyst and fluid bed reactor-regenerator system, Plas-TCat provides a new, direct route to light olefins and aromatics from heterogeneous plastic waste streams—without the need for steam cracker furnaces. The technology can effectively process a wide range of waste plastics, alone or within composites. This includes polyolefins, polyamides (nylon), PET, polycarbonate and polystyrene. With the completion of these continuous process runs Plas-TCat is now at Technology Readiness Level  6. 

The Plas-TCAT backstory

Based on a proprietary catalyst and fluid bed reactorregenerator system, Plas-TCat provides a new, direct route to light olefins and aromatics from plastic waste streams — such as polyolefins, polyamides (nylon), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polycarbonate and polystyrene — without the need for steam cracker furnaces. The resulting output of benzene, toluene and xylenes, as well as ethylene, propylene and butylene (light olefins), are suitable after separation for plastics manufacturers to produce a wide range of virgin plastics.

The most impressive processing trial took place at Anellotech’s TCat- 8TM fully automated, 30 meter tall pilot plant near Houston, Texas. Better than that, this is not a mevhanical recycling of plastics, with structural flaws and weaknesses. This is re-virginized plastic.

The potential users

Anellotech shared some fascinating data they gathered on major PET-using brand owners like Coca-Cola, Keurig Dr. Pepper and Pepsico as well as textile recycling brands like H&M and Levi’s. Here’s are some highlights of what they found so far:

  • The Coca-Cola Company – Their aim is to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one sold by 2030, aim to reduce the carbon footprint of “the drink in your hand” by 25% by 2020, make their global packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.
  • Pepsico – Design 100% of packaging to be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025, increase recycled content in plastics packaging to 25% by 2025, Reduce 35% of virgin plastic use across beverage portfolio by 2025.
  • Keurig Dr. Pepper – Aim to close the loop across all of their packaging materials by ensuring 100% recyclability or composability and using 30% recycled material across portfolio by 2025, aim to send zero waste to landfill across operations by 2025.
  • H&M – While a majority of H&M stores already offer in-store garment collecting, their goal is to be able to reuse and recycle all textile fibers, by 2030 to have 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials and by 2040 to have a climate positive value chain.
  • Levi Strauss & Co. – Current actions include collecting used clothing and recycling it with a goal to design more and more products that are suitable for true circularity with 100% recyclable materials from the outset.

The Multi-Slide Guide

Game-changing Plastic Trash to Treasure: The Digest’s 2022 Multi-Slide Guide to Anellotech

The Anellotech backstory

First, what is Anellotech? It’s a tech company focused on commercializing production of cost-competitive renewable chemicals and fuels from non-food biomass or waste plastics. Its patented Bio-TCat technology is a thermal catalytic process for converting biomass into benzene, toluene and xylene, which are chemically identical to petroleum-based counterparts. Itr was part of leveraging the Bio-TCat platform for Plas-TCat, a process technology aiming to convert mixed waste plastics into commodity chemicals such as olefins and aromatics.

From the same mixed plastic feedstock, the new process can be adjusted to two different production modes: ‘Hi-Olefins’ which emphasizes the production of olefins such as ethylene and propylene or ‘Hi-BTX’ which will produce mostly aromatics like BTX (benzene, toluene and xylene) and paraxylene – the key component needed for PET.

Back in 2020, we reported that Anellotech converted a Lay’s Barbeque Potato Chip bag into para-xylene, the primary chemical used to make virgin PET for beverage bottles, all by using its Plas-TCat Catalytic Pyrolysis technology which transforms mixed plastic waste directly into chemicals. The conversion also had high yields of benzene, toluene and olefins used to make a range of plastics, including polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, ABS and polycarbonate.

According to CEO David Sudolsky, “Our unique approach features an economical zeolite catalyst and heat in one fluid bed reactor to make commodity chemicals directly from plastic waste. Contrast this with companies making pyrolysis oils from plastics which must be upgraded at a chemical plant. By leveraging our lab and TCat-8 pilot systems we are on track with Plas-TCat technology, solving two major problems at once – expanded rPET supply and efficient, large-scale recycling of single use packaging (including PE, PP and multilayer films). In addition, we are producing the same chemicals used today to make most major plastics.”

Reaction from the stakeholders

“Anellotech can offer BTX samples made directly from mixed waste plastics to potential commercial partners to encourage engagement with our program,” says David Sudolsky, President and CEO of Anellotech. “Unlike thermal pyrolysis, Plas-TCat makes BTX and other chemicals in one reactor, providing true 100-percent recycled BTX (not mass balance approach) for studies today and eventual future commercial use.” Anellotech’s fully developed and patented Bio-TCat technology is an efficient thermal catalytic process for converting biomass into benzene, toluene and xylenes, which are chemically identical to their petroleum-based counterparts.

More on the story

There’s more still on Anellotech, here.

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