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3M promotes PTFE recycling technology

Polytetrafluoroethylene's (PTFE) ability to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh chemical environments makes it appealing for a number of applications but also makes it difficult to deal with in end-of-life, but not any more, according to 3M. 3M subsidiary Dyneon GmbH is currently constructing a PTFE recycling plant at an integrated production site located in southern Germany, with an annual capacity to recycle 500 metric tons of PTFE waste, converting it back to full-value raw materials.

Used in the chemical, automotive, semiconductor, and aerospace markets in a variety of applications, such as pumps, tapes, and automotive parts, PTFE presents a particular problem with regards to process waste.

An estimated 20,000 tonnes of waste are created annually during the processing of PTFE globally, according to 3M, and this waste material is currently either thermally degraded or land filled in special sites at a cost to the processor.

In 3M's new process, PTFE waste materials will be heated in a reactor, split into their raw gaseous components, cleaned, and fed back into the production of new PTFE. At full capacity, 3M estimates that the process will save 10,000 tonnes of waste hydrochloric-acid, 7500 megawatt hours of energy, and subsequently 7500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released annually into the atmosphere.

Global PTFE demand is forecast to be in excess of 240,000 tons, according to a Companies & Market report. PTFE has a 60% market share of the global fluoropolymer market.

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