HOUSTON—Michelin is moving a project to produce styrene, a fundamental synthetic rubber raw material, from plastics waste one step closer to reality with the awarding of a factory design contract to a U.S. engineering firm.
The contract, with Houston-based McDermott International Ltd., is tied to Michelin's work with Pyrowave Inc., a Canadian chemical reprocessing enterprise, to accelerate development of plastics-waste recycling technology that could yield commercially reusable styrene.
Michelin disclosed in late 2020 it was working with Pyrowave to help advance that company's catalytic microwave-based technology that culls styrene monomer from plastics found in polystyrene packaging, insulation panels and/or household appliances.
In disclosing its being awarded a front-end engineering design (FEED) contract from Michelin, Houston-based McDermott did not comment on the potential plant's site, construction timetable or value. McDermott will provide value engineering, risk analysis and a detailed constructability study within this "industry-first FEED."
The company did say the project is intended to industrialize, for the first time, an "innovative plastic recycling process" that produces regenerated styrene from polystyrene. McDermott also said the regenerated styrene produced by the unit will be used in the production of synthetic rubber for tires and polystyrene.
Bringing a plastics recycling plant such as the one referenced in this contract on stream will bring Michelin one step closer to its target of 100 percent sustainable tires by 2050.
McDermott said its office in Brno, Czech Republic, will execute the work, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter.
According to McDermott, the "groundbreaking process" will advance a new generation of sustainable tires to be manufactured by Michelin.
The award builds on a long-standing relationship between McDermott and Michelin, which have worked together since 2008 at varying stages of production, from design to start-up, Tareq Kawash McDermott senior vice president, Europe, Middle East, Africa, said.
More recently, Michelin announced a collaboration with French biochemicals company Carbios S.A. for the use of recycled polyethelene-terephthalate (PET) monomers to produce polyester tire fibers.