Plastics recycling with super critical water

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The University of Birmingham and engineering consultancy Stopford in the UK have received funding to develop a plastic recycling process using super critical water.

The funding, from UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, focuses on Stopford’s CircuPlast technology that uses super critical water (water that is above the critical point of 374.5oC and 220 bars) as a green solvent. This turns mixed plastic waste streams into a chemical feedstock which can be reused in plastics manufacture.  The technology was invented by Dr Bushra Al-Duri from the University of Birmingham. 

With the funding, the partners plan to develop a scale prototype, in which the supercritical water process will be tested. Under such conditions, the water can indiscriminately dissolve and decompose non-recyclable plastic waste mixtures, Stopford says.

The scale prototype could reportedly process the equivalent of over six mn plastic straws per annum.

 “I am most excited to deliver an advanced technology that helps alleviate the global plastics problem with an eco-friendly approach, and better-quality products while engaging in synergistic collaboration with our partners,” said Dr Al-Duri.