Mura Technology plans to construct what it’s calling Europe’s largest advanced recycling plant at Dow's Böhlen site in Germany. It is expected to be operational by 2025 and would deliver approximately 120 kilotons per annum (KTA) of advanced recycling capacity.
This and other planned units expected to be constructed in Europe and the United States would collectively add as much as 600 KTA of advanced recycling capacity by 2030. The facility in Böhlen would be the first in Germany.
The project also would make Dow the largest global consumer of circular feedstock for polyethylene production. This is the first facility to be located at a Dow site. The project is targeted for a final investment decision by the end of 2023.
“The project has a series of investments all the way along, so by the end of 2023, all contracts are expected to be in place,” Marc van den Biggelaar, Advanced Recycling Director, Dow EMEA & APAC, told PlasticsToday.
While the companies did not release financial details, Mura announced on June 1 that its partner, KBR, a science, technology, and engineering firm, made a $100 million investment in Mura to develop multiple new projects worldwide to remove more than one million tons of plastic from global waste streams.
Process uses supercritical steam to convert plastics
As shown in the video, Mura's Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution (HydroPRS) advanced recycling process uses supercritical steam to convert most forms of plastics, including historically non-recyclable flexible and multi-layer materials, back into the original oils and chemicals from which they were made. These can be used to create new “virgin-equivalent” polyethylene-based products that can be used in multiple medical and automotive applications and even for food-contact packaging, the company said.
With Mura's process, the same material can be recycled repeatedly, so it has the potential to eliminate single-use plastics and prevent them from going to landfills or being incinerated. Advanced recycling processes are expected to save approximately 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of plastic recycled compared with incineration, the company said. The technology also reduces reliance on fossil-based feedstocks.
Advanced recycling is different from mechanical recycling, which shreds only certain types of plastic for recycling.
First plant in UK expected to be operational in 2023
The planned facility in Germany builds on Dow's ongoing collaboration with Mura, first announced in 2021, with an initial project to construct the world's first plant using Mura's HydroPRS process, located in Teesside, UK, which is expected be operational in 2023 with an initial 20 KTA production line. The facility that will be co-located at Dow’s plant in Germany would enable a significantly larger capacity for plastic waste and increase the supply of fully circular feedstock to the industry.
Oliver Borek, Chief Commercial Officer of Mura Technology, said during a video press conference on Sept. 12 that the facility in Germany will have five times the capacity of the Teesside facility. “Teeside is 20,000 KTA, but that is liquid output, which translates to 25,000 tons of input. Böhlen is 120,000 KTA of output,” Borek said.
Dow said there are several advantages of co-locating the advanced recycling plant at its facility. It is expected to significantly reduce scaling costs. In addition, it is expected to reduce carbon emissions by minimizing transportation of the product. Plus, the gas output from the advanced recycling process can be converted back to plastics, so no by-products go to waste.
Dow committed to securing circular feedstocks
"The continuation and growth of Dow and Mura's collaboration is another example of how Dow is working strategically to expand and build momentum around securing circular feedstocks and supporting breakthrough advanced recycling technologies," said Isam Shomaly, Dow Business Vice President for Feedstocks and Commodities.
"We continue to increase Dow's capacity to use recycled content as feedstock, and continue to invest in the most effective technology available to enable our circular business model for plastics," said Diego Donoso, President of Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics. "The diversification of our feedstock slate and decarbonization of our assets will enable the achievement of Dow's goal of a sustainable, low-carbon future, and meet strong and growing customer demand for circular polymers. This will be a significant step forward to decrease our dependency on virgin fossil-based feedstocks."
Mura Technology CEO Steve Mahon added, "Combating the global plastics crisis requires innovative solutions that can drive a circular economy. Mura's collaboration with Dow has led to the largest commitment across the industry to date, showcasing the urgency from industry leaders to adopt scalable solutions such as HydroPRS that will transform the plastics industry worldwide. Dow's continued support for Mura Technology has led to a highly financeable commercial arrangement, and the deepening collaboration will allow both companies to achieve their stated ambitions in the advanced recycling space.”