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Recycling technology firm opening plant in Cleveland

By: Frank Esposito

April 9, 2013

CLEVELAND — Recycling technology firm Vadxx Energy plans to open a plant in Cleveland that can convert plastic and rubber scrap into synthetic crude oil.

Cleveland-based Vadxx hopes to begin work on the project by the end of April, executive Russell Cooper said in a recent phone interview. Coopers serves as the firm's vice president of supply chain and business development.

The Cleveland plant will cover 10,000 square feet and will cost between $12 million and $20 million to build. The plant will employ 17, while a new office for the firm will employ 10.

Vadxx uses a pyrolysis method which melts down plastic scrap and rubber tires into synthetic crude oil, which then can be refined into gasoline or diesel fuel. The proposed plant would be able to convert almost 35 million pounds of plastic scrap into 85,000 barrels of oil on an annual basis. Technology firm Rockwell Automation provided design, layout and engineering work for the proposed plant.

Once construction begins, the Vadxx unit could be producing synthetic oil within a year, Cooper said. Plastic scrap for the project would be sourced from regional businesses and local recyclers, he added. The firm is open to using almost any type of plastic, with the exception of PET, which Cooper said tends to stay in established recycling streams, and PVC, which cannot be used in synthetic oil.

Vadxx has operated a pilot plant in nearby Akron, Ohio, since 2010. The firm has a permit to establish a larger commercial plant there through a partnership with Houston-based Greenstar Recycling. Cooper said that project "is on hold," but he added that Vadxx firm "wants to open and operate a series of plants." The firm was founded in 2009 and is owned by management and equity investors.

Vadxx is not the only company banking on pyrolysis in northeast Ohio. Akron-based RES Polyflow is in the process of opening up a $5 million plant that would convert plastics and rubber into chemicals in Perry, Ohio, about 35 miles east of Cleveland.