Slovenian Innovation Converts Plastic Waste into Fuel and Electricity
Date: May 28th 2020
Author: Valerija Hozjan
One of the three Slovenian startups participating in InnoEnergy’s PowerUp! Challenge is Get Eco, a company addressing a major environmental issue: mixed plastic waste. Using a prototype machine, which is now in the development phase, the company is currently testing a pyrolysis-based technology (depolymerisation) to convert mixed plastic waste into new products that can replace bitumen rejuvenators in recycled asphalt, into motor fuels (diesel, gasoline), or electricity with more than 90% efficiency. Intended for public utility companies, packaging companies and households, Get Eco’s solution is based on an idea born in a maternity hospital, according to the company director, Tadeja Brajnik.
»When my son was born, one of the things that struck me in the hospital was just how many things are made to be used only once, from diapers to tweezers, various napkins and tampons, to protective equipment bags. All these items were discarded within minutes of being used, only to end up in incinerators in other countries or in landfills. It was at that time that I also met a young woman with a PhD in chemistry who did scientific research on the composition and decomposition of plastics. Together we started thinking about how to change the world that our sons had just been born into, for the better,” said Brajnik when explaining the company beginnings.
According to Brajnik, the process can convert, at relatively low temperatures, plastic waste into highly useful motor fuels (diesel, gasoline, asphalt rejuvenator) and high energy synthesis gas into electricity. “This is a closed-loop process designed on the circular economy principles.” Using this process, mixed plastic waste that would take more than 400 years to decompose naturally in the environment can be recycled within 30 minutes.
Even though their services and products have not yet been launched in the market as the processes behind them are still being tested, optimised and modified, possible industrial partners have already shown great interest to collaborate, purchase and implement their solution into their own production processes. “What is interesting is that potential foreign partners from Austria, Germany and Italy are much more persistent and eager to collaborate than locals are, the latter possibly failing to see the potential,” noted Brajnik.
The company’s goal for 2020 is to complete the testing phase and obtain all the certificates they need to start marketing the product and services. “Early next year, we plan to upgrade the system into a mobile unit that can recycle plastic waste across Europe while generating 50 kWh of electricity. In 2021, we also plan to produce at least 10 machines that can be put on the market. With the right investment, the sky is the limit.”
This article is available also in Slovene.