Business Update: August 2023 | AIChE

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Business Update: August 2023

Business Update

Polystyvert is building their first plant


Canadian molecular recycler, Polystyvert, announced that they will be building a $40 million 9,000 ton per year polystyrene recycling site outside of Montreal.

Molecular recycling 101. Molecular recycling refers to many different processes that recycle waste at a molecular level. Sometimes that means purification (using a chemical process to separate the target polymer from the rest of the waste), and sometimes that means depolymerization (using a chemical process to break down the target polymer, or polymers, into monomers). Polystyvert is a waste polystyrene purifier.

What does the process entail? Similar to the polycarbonate-dissolving process that Trinseo is piloting, Polystyvert’s process dissolves waste polystyrene (perhaps with something like cymene), removes the impurities and polystyrene additives, and then evaporates the solvent, leaving pure polystyrene behind.

Looking forward. Polystyvert’s dissolution process competes with Agilyx’s pyrolysis-based depolymerization process. Pyrolysis has two advantages: not much pre-processing is required, and big petrochemical players may be interested in processing pyrolysis oil as pseudo-naphtha in their steam crackers. However, polystyrene made from the dissolution process can be sold directly to polystyrene compounders, and the dissolution process is less energy intensive. So not only is Polystyvert able to sell their product for a higher price, they are potentially making it in a more...

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