BASF uses waste tyre oil as feedstock

Article by Amanda Jasi

Shredded waste tyres ready to be further processed into pyrolysis oil by New Energy

BASF has signed an agreement with New Energy, a Hungarian technology company which has developed a rubber waste pyrolysis process, to use New Energy’s pyrolysis oil as feedstock at a chemical production site as well as to carry out a joint feasibility study.

According to New Energy, currently, 3m t/y of rubber waste is generated in Europe, and its technology aims to help to eliminate the environmental impacts of this waste.

The recent agreement includes uptake supply, which will see New Energy provide BASF with up to 4,000 t/y of pyrolysis oil derived from waste tyres to replace fossil resources. The first volumes of oil were used successfully in a pilot phase, at BASF’s integrated chemical production site (Verbund site) in Ludwigshafen, Germany, which has a portfolio extending from basic chemicals, intermediates and plastics to refining and crop protection products. A share of the recycled raw material is allocated to “certain products” manufactured at the site, said BASF.

BASF and New Energy have additionally agreed to a feasibility study aimed at adapting New Energy’s proprietary pyrolysis technology to enable conversion of other plastic waste streams.

This recent agreement is part of BASF’s ChemCycling project which started in 2018 and focusses on chemically reprocessing post-consumer waste plastic on an industrial scale. The first commercial products from this project have been on the market from this year.

BASF says the focus of the ChemCycing project will remain the use of plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or be incinerated. The company also sees an opportunity to recycle end-of-life tyres.

Christian Lach, Project Leader of ChemCycling at BASF, said: “So far, there was no technology that allowed the recycling of pyrolysis oil from tyres into high value applications. By further broadening our raw material base to waste tyres, we can create a new circular value stream. Moreover, we establish a second recycled feedstock in our ChemCycling project with which we can manufacture high-performance products for our customers’ demanding applications.”

Lach adds that the recent agreement is in addition to a partnership with plastic waste recycling company Quantafuel, which “ will soon supply us with pyrolysis oil derived from mixed plastic waste from their commercial scale plant in Skive, Denmark”.

 “We spent almost a decade to develop and optimise our technology and are now successfully operating an industrial-scale plant which turns waste tyres into secondary raw materials,” said Viktor Váradi, Co-owner and Executive Director of New Energy. This, he claims, puts the company at the forefront of establishing a circular economy for tyres.

“Our objective is to achieve quantifiable environmental benefit. The reduced need for primary fossil resources clearly serves this objective as well as the reduced carbon footprint of the newly manufactured products.”

Ccycled products

Within the ChemCycling project, BASF has developed products branded as  “Ccycled”. These products have the same properties as those manufactured from fossil fuels, which BASF says enables customers to further process the products in the same way as conventional alternatives and to use them in applications with high demands regarding quality and performance, such as automotive parts.

Ccycled products have been used by third-party companies to produce insulation and protective packaging, polymer film packaging, and automotive company Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has developed a plastic front-end carrier prototype for its first electric SUV. JLR partnered with BASF last year in a pilot research project to trial plastic recycling technology, which came as part of the ChemCycling project.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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