CLERMONT-FERRAND, France—Michelin is joining forces with a Canadian chemical reprocessing enterprise to accelerate development of an innovative plastics waste recycling technology that could yield commercially reusable styrene, a key building block in synthetic rubber as well as plastics.
Pyrowave Inc., described as a pioneer in the electrification of chemical processes and plastics recycling, has developed a catalytic microwave-based technology that culls styrene monomer from plastics found in polystyrene packaging, insulation panels and/or household appliances.
This recycled styrene is of sufficient purity/quality, Michelin said, to be considered a raw material monomer for the production of polystyrene as well as styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) for tires and a large number of consumer products.
Michelin and Oakville, Ontario-based Pyrowave have agreed their separate technical teams will work together to develop an industrial demonstrator, funded and operated by Michelin, by 2023. The companies are budgeting $22 million to cover this work in advance of a commercial roll-out in international markets by 2023.
The joint development agreement will combine Pyrowave's expertise with Michelin's industrial know-how, the partners said. Michelin operates captive SBR production in the U.S., France and Indonesia.
Unlike current thermal processes, Pyrowave's microwave technology enables the recycling of plastic waste into high-quality raw materials using electricity—which the Canadian firm claims provides the highest decarbonation potential. It also provides higher yields, the two companies said, while being more accurate than conventional technologies to replace virgin raw materials from oil and gas.