The Eindhoven-based chemical company Ioniqa Technologies has acquired 2.5 million euros' worth of funding from Chemelot Ventures and existing investors, Ioniqa and Chemelot Venturues announced last week. Ioniqa, an Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) spin-off, will be upscaling its invention that enables the full and affordable recycling of colored PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Colorless PET was already fully recyclable but most of the world's PET production of 50 million tons is colored and a significant portion is consigned to the incinerator after use. Now a change is at hand.
The Eindhoven-based company will now build a demo-plant with an annual capacity of 10 kiloton to make the transition from lab to production scale, with the aim of the plant being fully operational in 2017. The company then wants to sell licenses for the use of its patented technology to major chemical companies and multinationals.
Ioniqa director Tonnis Hooghoudt: "We are the only company in the world that has the process to remove color from PET plastic in an energy-efficient and affordable way. This opens the way for fully circular PET recycling, whereby PET can be endlessly reused. That has significant benefits for both the packaging industry and the environment." According to Hooghoudt, there is considerable interest from the chemical giants, particularly multinationals that buy a lot of PET, due to the growing focus on 'green' consumer products. PET is mainly used in the packaging of food and products, in textiles and in bottles.
In its process Ioniqa uses 'smart' magnetic fluids that are designed in such a way that they can perform a function. It is the combination of this kind of fluid and magnetism that breaks down the PET waste and removes the colors. Subsequently, Ioniqa makes pure, transparent raw material for new PET. This basic material has the same qualities as petroleum-based 'virgin' PET, the most common raw material for PET. And it costs the same or, depending on the price of oil, less.
Currently millions of tons of colored PET are lost to the incinerator after use, or are 'downcycled' to applications of a lower quality. The Ioniqa technology offers an economically viable solution to reduce this mountain of plastic waste. In addition, its broad introduction will help stabilize the price of PET raw material by reducing the influence of oil prices.
For the technological development Ioniqa Technologies BV is cooperating with the group of TU/e professor Nico Sommerdijk. The company, which has premises at the TU/e Science Park, focuses on the development of smart magnetic materials and magnetic separation processes.