IBM researchers develop recycling tech that eats dirty bottles to make new plastic
 

IBM researchers develop recycling tech that eats dirty bottles to make new plastic

IBM researchers have discovered a a catalytic chemical process that digests plastics into a substance which can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products. the process, called VolCat recycling, collects plastic bottles, containers, and PET-based fabrics, grinds them up, and combines them with a chemical catalyst in a pressure cooker set to above 200 degrees celsius.

IBM researchers have discovered a a catalytic chemical process that digests plastics into a substance which can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products.

images courtesy of IBM

 

 

VolCat begins by heating PET and ethylene glycol in a reactor with the catalyst. after depolymerization is complete, the catalyst is recovered by distillation from the reactor using the heat of reaction. the solution is filtered, purified, and then cooled, and the solid monomer product is recovered by filtration. the recovered liquid, along with the catalyst, is then reintroduced into the depolymerization reactor in an energy-efficient cycle.

IBM researchers have discovered a a catalytic chemical process that digests plastics into a substance which can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products.

 

 

with heat and a small amount of pressure, the catalyst is able to digest and clean the ground-up plastic. the process separates contaminants like food residue, glue, dirt, dyes, and pigments from the material that is useable for new PET. the useable matter (called a monomer) takes the form of a white powder, which can be fed directly into a polyester reactor to make brand new plastics.

IBM researchers have discovered a a catalytic chemical process that digests plastics into a substance which can be fed directly back into plastic manufacturing machines in order to make new products.

 

 

advancements like VolCat will make recycling plastics more efficient and more versatile in treating more material types than its predecessors. unlike traditional mechanical recycling, future plastics recycling will break down both colored and clear plastics, as well as dirty and clean containers, producing a high-quality final product that is 100 percent recyclable.

 

IBM believes that in the next half decade, plastic recycling advancements like VolCat could be adopted around the globe to combat global plastic waste. in place of mechanical recycling which can only be used on clear, pre-cleaned containers, future recycling advancements will mean no more sorting, rinsing, and separating used containers, wrappers, or plastics.

 

project info

 

name: VolCat

research: IBM

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