WRITTEN BY Jill Jones for publication on the PolymerOhio blog
As stated by JobsOhio: “Ohio’s polymer industry is supported by a world-class supply chain of academic and technical institutions, designers and material suppliers, mold builders, resin suppliers and compounders, plastic and polymer processors, industry associations and economic development groups.”
And now it is also home to the nation’s first continuous waste plastic to EcoFuel™ recycling technology, developed by Vadxx Energy LLC in Akron, Ohio. This disruptive technology can recycle even those plastics not typically accepted by other recycling facilities, such as #6 polystyrene, including food containers, and #7 plastics, including lids and 3 and 5 gallon jugs.
We’re not talking about just another recycling facility here. Vadxx’s continuous flow processing technology has the ability to keep 40,000,000 pounds of waste plastic from settling in our landfills and bodies of water each year by converting all of it to 4,000,000 gallons of what Vadxx calls EcoFuel™. These are crude oil and fuels, synthetic gas and other energy products that the company defines in 4 different categories:
- EcoFuel-I™: A diesel stock for use as a blending agent to improve the overall quality of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, as well as distillate fuels blended with diesel for on-road use.
- EcoFuel-II™: A Naphtha that can be used as a gasoline additive to increase octane.
- EcoFuel-SNG™: A Synthetic Natural Gas produced for the exclusive use by the Vadxx process.
- EcoFuel-S™: A carbon powder that can be used as a low grade fuel source.
Diverting Plastics from Landfills
It takes over 1,000 years for the plastics in our landfills and water supplies to decompose. Considering that, based on a report published in 2015 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, 91% of all plastic waste in the United States goes into those two areas, the development of a process that can address this growing concern has been needed for a while.
As a green energy company, Vadxx has committed to reducing the amount of plastic being dumped into our landfills and finding its way into our water supplies. Because plastics are derived from hydrocarbons and have a high energy content, Vadxx took the opportunity to develop a new way to convert them into energy products without producing any hazardous by-products.
The First Vadxx Facility Starts Production in Akron
With private equity from Charlotte-based Liberation Capital, and the design and construction expertise of Rockwell Automation, the $20 million Vadxx facility in Akron is now complete. June of this year saw their first commercial oil production and they have plans to have their first diesel and naphtha sales later this month. Although they will be starting out at only 25% of their capacity, they plan to gradually increase that and be at 100% after the start of 2017. When the facility reaches its full capacity, it will be consuming 25,000 tons of waste plastic annually.
Feedstock for the recycling process is initially coming from Ohio and the surrounding states as post-industrial plastics. Moving forward, Vadxx intends to stay away from paying for any of their waste plastics. Instead, they are making arrangements to get loads from suppliers who would be paying less than they would to move the waste to area landfills.
In the future, Vadxx hopes to expand beyond the Akron region and establish facilities both nationally and globally and is seeking potential investors to help make that happen. These facilities will have a significant impact on their local economies by not only generating fuel and energy products, but by creating employment opportunities both in the plant itself and through the supply chain.