Plastics have become the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy – combining unrivalled functional properties with low cost.
The growth of plastics production since 1950 has significantly outpaced any other manufactured material. Since plastic was invented in 1907, it has helped make many aspects of our everyday lives easier, cheaper and more convenient.
Yet the same properties that make plastics so versatile – durability and resistance to degradation – also make them difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. Three quarters of the 8 billion tonnes of plastic ever produced is now waste.
Packaging is the single largest plastics application, accounting for 35% of production. However, the shift from reusable to single-use containers means packaging actually accounts for an even bigger 47% of plastic waste.
Plastic pollution has become one of the major environmental challenges of our time. Solving the problem is far more complex than simply introducing a ban on single-use plastic.
Currently the majority of waste plastic is sent to landfill or incinerated. Polyolefin soft plastics, Trifol’s targeted waste plastics stream, are the most notoriously difficult plastics to recycle.
Trifol has developed its own unique pyrolysis process to specifically target waxes as an output. Waxes have a diverse range of end-markets with high commercial opportunities and returns where Trifol has established intellectual property protection.
Since establishment in 2014 Trifol has worked closely with Queen’s University Belfast, where a pilot plant was built and then operated through 2016 to develop proof of concept and commence customer engagement.
This pilot plant was re‐established in Trifol’s new commercial facility in Portlaoise June 2018 to tailor products for customer testing and refinement. Pilot studies are ongoing as we move into commercial production. Trifol is in collaboration with both Queens University Belfast and the University of Limerick (UL)commenced in 2019 to support Trifol on the continual product and yield enhancement and analytical program. Both universities bring extensive pyrolysis experience and capabilities.
A number of factors including feedstock selection, reaction temperature and residence time within the pyrolysis process determines the mix and specification of the output into the following product groups:
Trifol filed and published four grants with the UK Intellectual Property Office in 2016 and 2017. The applications were fast-tracked based on being ‘environmentally beneficial’. These patents have now been granted.
The four patents were published by the European Patent Office (EPO) on 5th of December 2018. Trifol claims in relation to the four patents were also filed in December 2018 in the USA.
The wax market is worth $8.1bn and growing at 4.6% p.a (Inkwood)
Wax is traditionally a by-product of Group I Lubricant production from crude oil, which are now being displaced in the market by higher performing synthetic lubricants.
US annual demand is circa 1.4m tonnes which is serviced 40-45% by imports (majority from China).
Trifol will generate liquids such as naphtha and diesel as by‐products of its process. The Naptha is a suitable feedstock for a steam cracker to remake plastic monomers Ethylene and Propylene, fully closing the loop on plastic recycling.
Feedstock Suppliers by Category
Trifol has set a tight specification for suitable waste plastics. At present, specific plastic waste products are excluded (i.e. PET, PVC and Nylon) with all other plastics suitable for conversion to fuel / gas products. Demand for oil for plastic production makes up 6% of total oil supply, to create 350 million tonnes of plastic per annum. The oil used is the same amount used by the entire aviation sector (McArthur, 2017). Plastic compounders will use this output to create seven different branded and distinct plastic products. These are set out in the following schematic:
The Trifol process will target all plastic products within categories numbers 2,4 and 5.
In summary, Trifol can convert the following End-of-Life Plastics into commercial waxes, ingredients for the production of synthetic lubricants, and liquid fuels as a by-product:
This is your chance to invest or partner with us – and join the Trifol mission to give old plastic a new future.