New patent activity indicates several efforts are underway to convert recycled plastics into oil products through pyrolysis equipment.

A recent patent application from JBI Inc., Niagara Falls, New York, discloses a way to produce “final in-spec petroleum products” through the melting, pyrolysis, vaporization and selective condensation of unsorted and unwashed waste plastics. The system is called Plastic2Oil. The company, which does business as Plastic2Oil Inc., says it uses proprietary process engineering to capture an average of 86 percent of the hydrocarbon content of plastics.

More than a dozen pyrolysis technologies are competing globally in the scrap plastics market.

Richard Heddle, Plastic2Oil CEO and president, has invested several million dollars to stabilize Plastic2Oil. He is hopeful the company will find a licensee to build a plant soon.

Key components of the winning technologies will be initial capital cost, safety, operating cost and end product quality.

Patent application US 20170073584 A1; published March 16, 2017

Plastics pyrolysis. Agilyx Inc., Beaverton, Oregon, is building the company’s first production facility to convert polystyrene (PS) foam cups, packaging materials and Styrofoam into styrene monomer. The 10-ton-per-day plant will be near Portland, Oregon. The company also has patented a method to convert mixed plastic scrap to an intermediate crude oil feedstock where hydrocarbon gases generated from plastic scrap are transferred to a proprietary back-end system and condensed to liquid. Agilyx is working with waste service providers, municipalities, refiners and private and public enterprises to develop closed-loop industrial solutions for mixed plastic scrap.

Patent US 9493713; published Nov. 15, 2016

The specific placement of the mechanical components in newly developed Erema equipment is important and is described in the patent application. (USPTO)

Plastics pyrolysis. YAGS LLC of Evanston, Illinois, has developed a portable recycling system that consists of two reactor sections with a connecting conduit. The company says the equipment can be operated directly where scrap plastics are generated or collected and can be scaled up quickly.

Patent US 9365775; published June 14, 2016

PS recycling. A mechanical system for recycling expandable plastics, such as PS, is the subject of a patent application published by Sulzer Chemtech AG, Winterthur, Switzerland. It includes an extruder, a mixer/heat exchanger and a melt pump. The expansion agent is “substantially contained” and reused, the application states. The system is designed for reprocessing off-spec material and upgrading expandable PS.

Patent EP 3079877 A1; published Oct. 19, 2016

Waste treatment. Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH, Ansfelden, Austria, has developed a new way to add highly viscous additives to scrap plastic flakes. The system includes a receiving receptacle with a mixing tool and a feeding mechanism. The feeding mechanism introduces the additives into the bottom of the receptacle.

Patent application US 20170008194 A9; published Jan. 12, 2017

Multilayer packaging. Saperatec GmbH of Bielefeld, Germany, has developed a system for recycling multilayer plastic packaging containing at least one layer of metal. Scrap material is placed in a vat that contains a separation fluid composed of at least one swelling agent and carboxylic acid. A sieving/filtration device removes the metal and plastic from the fluid.

Patent application US 20170080603; published March 23, 2017

The author is a senior correspondent for Plastics Machinery Magazine and can be contacted at