Guest blog from Braskem
Braskem’s polymer recycling technology research partnerships have received over $4 million in research and development (R&D) grants from the REMADE Institute (“REMADE”), a public-private partnership established by the United States Department of Energy and the first institute in the U.S. dedicated to accelerating the nation’s transition to a Circular Economy. Braskem also invests funding into these projects.
The REMADE Institute enables the early-stage applied research and development of key industrial platform technologies that could dramatically reduce the embodied energy and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing. By focusing its efforts on the technical and economic barriers that prevent greater material recycling, recovery, remanufacturing, and reuse, the REMADE Institute seeks to motivate industry investments to advance technology development and support the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem.
Braskem partnership projects awarded funding by REMADE included:
Dynamic Crosslinking to Enable EVA Recycling
- This project aims to recycle EVA foam from shoe midsoles, transforming it into thermoplastic polymers suitable for new shoe production. As of Q1 2023, the technology sits at a lab scale (TRL 3) and is projected to reach a pilot scale demonstration (TRL6) by its end. Yet, the leap to commercial application demands extensive testing to ensure consistent quality and performance of recycled EVA foam for shoe components. Another key project goal is a techno-economic analysis to evaluate cost and energy implications of using recycled shoes as feedstock for new footwear foams. The project promises multiple paths for technology adaptation, potentially reducing the number of shoes discarded into US landfills.
- In a partnership with Adidas, Allbirds, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Supramolecular Interfacial Reinforcement for Manufacture Utilizing Mixed Secondary Plastic Feedstock
- This project seeks to increase the recycling rate of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) by reducing the need for separation in favor of high-performance blends that are enabled by an innovative compatibilization technology. As an added benefit this technology may also apply to other polyolefin blends, facilitating unique performance combinations. In a partnership with The University of Akron
Remaking of Recyclable Multilayer Barrier Films
- The goal of this project is to advance manufacturing techniques for sustainably producing and recycling multilayer plastic films with outstanding properties for challenging applications. This REMADE project will integrate and extend leading process and material technologies including a novel poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVOH) polymer, ultrasound-assisted extrusion, reactive preprocessing, and water-based materials separation and recovery to yield high performance films that are inherently separable.
- In partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Dow Chemical, and Aquapak
Demonstration of Solvent-Based Plastic Recycling to Extract Pure PP from PCR
- We developed a patent-pending solvent-based technology that can dissolve a specific resin with a respective solvent, even when the resin is blended with multiple polymers. The resin can be extracted in its pure form, retaining the original properties, and can be used in the original application. The technology is called Solvent Targeted Recycling and Precipitation (STRAP). The overall objective of the current project is to extract high-purity PP from Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) polypropylene (PP) wastes. We will produce cast films and measure the properties of the films to verify that STRAP recycled PP can be used in high-purity PP applications.
- In partnership with Michigan Technological University and University of Wisconsin – Madison
REMADE funded research projects seek to innovate industrial-scale materials production and processing, achieving multiple positive impacts among the following Target Technical Performance Metrics (TPMs), including:
- Reducing primary feedstock consumed
- Reducing secondary feedstock energy
- Increasing embodied energy efficiency
- Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Facilitating cross-industry reuse
- Balancing cost and energy party
Efforts are ongoing worldwide to move from today’s linear economy focused on take-make-dispose, to a Circular Economy, where society makes-uses-recycles. Reducing energy consumption and decreasing GHG emissions are major components of that transformation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, manufacturing accounts for 25% of U.S. energy consumption at a cost of approximately $150 billion. Based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industry is the third-largest contributor to GHG emissions in the nation at 22%. Detailed information on all REMADE projects can be found at www.remadeinstitute.org.