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Issue 07/2022 Special Edition

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Highlights: Advanced Recycling Carbon Capture & Utilisation

Automotive Car headliner

Automotive Car headliner from plastic waste and old tyres Grupo Antolin, (Burgos, Spain), a global supplier of technological solutions for car interiors, presents the first headliner substrate produced by thermoforming a PU foam with materials made from urban & post-consumer plastic waste and end-of-life tyres. Working with recycled materials is a natural step in the company’s commitment to developing a sustainable business. The aim is to reduce waste and energy consumption during manufacturing and to meet the demand for eco-friendly interiors, something increasingly valued by car buyers. The headliner part looks like a standard headliner and performs exactly the same (sustainability surge comes without any reduction in the physical properties of the headliner). This accomplishment has been possible thanks to a material’s manufacturing process developed by the partner BASF (using chemical recycling) that Antolin has validated and introduced in a fully electric European premium car that has just been launched to the market. Approximately 50 % of the headliner weight is recycled. In this particular project, 100 % of the textile, 70 % of the core foam, and 70 % of the plastic sunroof reinforcement frame have been obtained from residues that couldn’t be recycled in any other way and would have been, ultimately, disposed of in landfills or incinerated. “This project is a step towards a more sustainable car interior trim and a huge leap for the Wet PU technology. A technology that has demonstrated to be the most competitive in terms of cost and quality, fulfilling at the same time the most demanding specifications from our clients”, says Enrique Fernandez, Advanced Engineering Director, Overhead Systems BU. “We are going one step further by deploying the strategy among our clients worldwide. Our next project featuring recycled core PU foam will be unveiled in 2022 and it will be manufactured using renewable electricity. Our commitment is to reduce the generation of waste and emissions in all our production processes”, highlights Javier Blanco, Grupo Antolin’s Sustainability Director. These types of solutions are an example of the company’s technological commitment to helping its customers to develop more sustainable vehicles by reducing waste, weight, and emissions. This action is part of the Sustainability Master Plan that has been designed with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’ 2030 Agenda as a roadmap. Mechanical recycling As the leading overhead systems supplier, Grupo Antolin focuses on different methods and technologies to recycle interior trim parts as part of its objective to make a positive contribution to society and reduce its carbon footprint. In this sense, mechanical recycling is another well-known procedure that helps to reintegrate plastic products into the production cycle. This is a mature technology that has found many applications and it’s well integrated in industrial processes. This type of recycling is currently being used with thermoplastic structures. With thermoset materials, mechanical recycling is not possible in many cases, though. Antolin has developed technologies that allow to process a wider quality range of recycled plastic sources that are transformed into automotive parts using a process called Novaform. On the other hand, it has also introduced in serial production in Europe a method to recycle the thermoset run-offs and technical scrap from headliners and transform them into construction boards. These boards are currently being used in Europe, Africa, and South America. The product, branded Coretech, is capable of transforming a composite thermoset product (that couldn’t be recycled in other ways) into a board with outstanding insulation and endurance properties. MT 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/21] Vol. 16

Clean-up ships fuelled by garbage Millions of tonnes of synthetic plastics are released into the environment each year. Of this, a fraction ends up in one of several oceanic gyres, natural locations where the currents tend to accumulate floating debris – including plastics. The largest and best known of these is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), which is estimated to cover an area roughly the size of the state of Texas (or France), and which seems to be increasing in size over time. Removing this plastic from the oceanic gyres has promise to return the ocean to a more pristine state and alleviate the associated burden on wildlife and the food chain. Current methods to remove this plastic use a boom system to concentrate the plastic and a ship to harvest it and return to port to unload the plastic cargo and refuel [1]. Plastic is a natural energy carrier, which suggests the question: is there enough energy embodied in the plastic to power the ship and eliminate or reduce the need to return to port? If so, then can a process be devised to convert plastic into a form of fuel appropriate for modern diesel engines that are used to power ships? Thermodynamic analysis of the energy available in plastics answered the first question – yes, there is enough energy in the ocean plastics, provided that they are first concentrated using booms and that the ship is small and efficient enough to minimize its fuel consumption. The next question was answered by designing a process to convert plastics into a liquid fuel precursor. The most important step of the process is a hightemperature reaction called hydrothermal liquefaction or HTL. HTL depolymerizes plastics at high temperatures (300–550 °C) and high pressure (250–300 bar), thereby converting them into a liquid form. Oil yields from HTL are typically >90 % even in the absence of catalysts and, unlike pyrolysis, yields of solid by-products – which would need to be stored or burned in a special combustor – are less than 5, thus conferring certain comparative advantages to HTL. Current data on the GPGP indicates that it contains mainly polyethylene and polypropylene, a mixture that is especially A Great Pacific Garbage Patch C ~ 1900 km San Francisco Port Current with Plastic Boom 600 m appropriate for HTL. By-products include a gas that might be used as a cooking fuel; a solid that could be burned on board or stored; and process water that is cleaned prior to release. Further analysis indicated that the use of plastic-derived fuels could reduce fuel consumption, and effectively eliminate fossil fuel use. The HTL-derived fuel could be termed blue diesel, to reference its marine origin and in contrast with both traditional marine diesel and green diesel, derived from land-based renewable resources. The full feasibility study is available for free online (link below [1]). Future work will construct the process and test it at pilot-scale for realistic feeds, to ultimately transition to shipboard use. AT [1] Belden, E.R.; Kazantzis, N.K.; Reddy,C.M.; Kite-Powell, H; Timko,M.T.; Italiani, E.; Herschbach D.R.: Thermodynamic feasibility of shipboard conversion of marine plastics to blue diesel for self-powered ocean cleanup; California 0.5 knots B D Current 14 cm s -1 Boom Array System Reactor 15 knots Overview of the process for plastic removal out of the GPGP showing (A) the total system overview, (B) part of the system of collection booms, (C) a single collection boom, and (D) the HTL reactor. From Science & Research San Francisco Port Current 14 cm s -1 California bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/21] Vol. 16 13

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