Düsseldorf, Germany — Next Generation Group is launching a new company to offer pyrolysis to plastics recycling companies looking for a more cost-effective way to deal with processing waste.
The Feldkirchen, Austria-based operation known for more traditional equipment such as melt filters and PET recycling systems has a newly installed pilot project in place at Johannes Kepler University in Linz.
Pyrolysis has long been viewed as a potential magic bullet by recyclers as a way of converting low-value recyclables and residuals into fuel. And while the technology has long been proven to work, the economics of the process essentially remain elusive.
But Next Generation does not see pyrolysis as a stand-alone technology, touting the process as a way to deal with what's left over after all the good stuff has been recycled. Rather than shipping off residuals to a landfill, Next Generation believes creating pyrolysis units at plastics recycling facilities can help improve the overall economics of an operation.
“If you insert a certain amount of bales or whatever material you have, you only get a certain yield. And the yield in mixed plastics, a good recycler is only about 65 percent. With a mono product it can go up to 85 percent,” explained Michael Heinzlreiter, head of marketing and business development for Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH, a part of the group.
Establishing pyrolysis units at recycling facilities can produce fuel to help run energy-intensive equipment such as wash plants, he said.
Residuals and sludge from recycling operations can have a high energy value, maybe 60 to 70 percent of oil, Heinzlreiter said at the company's K show booth. “So there is a lot of energy still in there.”
Creating a stand-alone pyrolysis operation probably still does not make economic sense, but creating one integrated with a recycling system can help avoid and control costs, he said.
“We use pyrolysis for the customer to save on one hand the disposal cost, which is getting extremely high in Europe, especially [in the United Kingdom] ... U.K. companies are suffering from that. And then you get out energy in the form of gas-oil mixture, which we then burn,” Heinzlreiter explained.
A byproduct of the process is either coke or calcium carbonate, which also can be sold, he said.
NGR has been running the technology, branded T:Cracker, for about three months. The unit, which they dubbed material morphing technology, thermally spits hydrocarbon molecule chains as part of the process to create the end products.
The approach is so new that NGR is still in the process of establishing a separate entity to keep its pyrolysis business separate from its Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen GmbH subsidiary. The new company is being called Next Generation Elements.
NGR sees the new company as part of a way to address customers through a circular economy approach.
“There is a point where you cannot economically recycle anymore. There is a point. Either you can stay away from that or you can do it,” Heinzlreiter said.
“We would like to provide systems and services in order to support the change from a linear to a circular economy. And what we do is look at each and every value chain which is in there and what we can do to support the industry in getting more efficient in that,” Heinzlreiter said. “There is a point where you cannot economically recycle anymore. There is a point. Either you can stay away from that or you can do it,” he said.