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Ohio-based recycling technology firm Polyflow readies pyrolysis unit

By: Frank Esposito

February 14, 2013

AKRON, OHIO -- Recycling technology firm RES Polyflow will have its first full scale plastic-to-chemicals unit up and running by the end of March.

The unit represents an investment of between $5 million and $6 million for the Akron, Ohio-based firm. The unit will be located in Perry, Ohio, near the facilities of Niagara Systems, the firm that's designing and building the unit along with Chemstress Consultant Co. of Akron.

Once the unit is fully operational, Polyflow officials will need to decide whether to build a plant around the unit or transfer it to a location chosen from several interested customers, CEO Jay Schabel said in a Feb. 7 phone interview.

"We have to decide where [the unit] will be most profitable," he said.

Polyflow's pyrolysis technology melts down any type of plastic scrap at nearly 1,000° F. The vapor is then condensed into a liquid slurry that contains aromatic chemicals. The liquid can be reused by petrochemical firms or used in paint, coatings and solvents.

Polyflow currently is sourcing plastic scrap from numerous sources, including compounding leader PolyOne Corp., Hiram College, the city of Stow, Ohio, and a local military base.

The company has collected about 65,000 pounds of plastic scrap in the last three months. Company officials previously said that a full-size reactor unit will be able to process 5,000 pounds of mixed plastic scrap per hour and would produce 3 million gallons of chemical liquids per year.

Four full-time employees are working on the Polyflow unit. If a plant measuring 20,000 to 25,000 square feet is built, Polyflow would need to hire 30 more employees, Schabel said.

Plant construction would add another $5 million to $6 million to the cost of the project, according to Schabel.

The firm won a $1.6 million state grant in 2011 and received a similar-sized investment last year from private equity firm Ambassador Enterprises LLC of Fort Wayne, Ind. Schabel said that Ambassador now owns a minority stake in Polyflow. He declined to identify other investors.

An additional state grant of $600,000 will fund the construction of a fuel-analysis lab that will be used by faculty and students from Youngstown State University. That lab will test the liquids produced by the Polyflow unit and will be located on the YSU campus.