University of Birmingham grants rights to ‘supercritical water’ recycling technology

The University of Birmingham has licensed the rights to its new “supercritical water” technology to engineering firm Stopford. The new process will break down complex mixed plastics, converting them into “value-added materials” for use as feedstock for the plastics industry.

Above the critical point of 374.5ºC and 220 bar (217 atmospheres), water is referred to as “supercritical”, where its gaseous properties allow it to break down complex plastic waste.

The new process, developed by Dr Bushra Al-Duri from the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemical Engineering, creates fewer emissions than current recycling methods, has fewer processing steps and produces no residue of solvent.

Dr Al-Duri commented: “Supercritical water technology represents the next generation for the treatment and recycling of ‘stubborn’, complex and hazardous wastes that are currently treated by incineration or sent to landfill. I look forward to working with Stopford on the scientific and operational challenges of bringing this technology to market. »

Following the acquisition, Stopford will use ‘supercritical water’ technology in its development of ‘CircuPlast’, a new hydrothermal process that converts non-recyclable plastics into high-value chemicals for use in new plastics. Using “supercritical water” rather than fossil fuel-derived solvents, the technology aims to provide a sustainable alternative to traditional materials used in the plastics industry.

Dr. Ben Herbert, Stopford’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, said: “This agreement allows Stopford to accelerate the development of ‘CircuPlast’ technology to meet the plastics management and sustainability requirements of several industrial sectors.

David Coleman, CEO of University Birmingham Enterprise, added: “Growth in plastics production has long outstripped recycling capacity, with the UK alone generating over 2 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year. year, of which just over half is recycled. We are delighted that the university is working with Stopford to provide a viable way to recycle much more plastic packaging that will help meet sustainability goals.