Clean-tech pioneer Econic Technologies has opened a first-of-its-kind plant in the UK to demonstrate to customers how its innovative catalyst technologies can convert CO2 into polyols, which can then be used to make more sustainable polyurethanes for use in products such as automobiles, bedding and footwear.
The new plant is located in Runcorn, at The Heath, one of the UK’s leading independently-owned business and technical parks. It comprises all elements of the production process, integrated from reaction through to final product treatment, in a bespoke industrial unit. Opening its new plant at The Heath demonstrates Econic Technologies’ long term commitment to the North West following its relocation from London to Cheshire in 2017, with the company adding 12 new jobs across its two Cheshire locations since the move.
The new demonstration plant is an exciting step forward in Econic Technologies’ journey to help manufacturers unlock the positive potential of waste CO2. Until now, the creation of polyols from CO2 has been performed in plants at high-pressures and temperatures. Thanks to its new tunable catalyst technology, Econic Technologies’ plant will be able to produce samples of CO2-based polyols at lower, industrially relevant temperatures and pressures.
The launch of the plant comes just weeks after Econic announced that they had closed a major founding round which saw climate investment group OGCI Ventures coming on board alongside existing investors. As well as private capital investment, the demonstration plant has also received substantial European support through a Horizon 2020 SME Award. Rulande Rutgers, Head of Process and Product Engineering at Econic Technologies explains: “Securing such highly competitive public funding has been an important vote of confidence for Econic Technologies, and is allowing the company to accelerate development pace. Using some of this funding for the new demonstration plant is one way it is helping turn the potential of our catalysts into reality.”
Rowena Sellens, CEO of Econic Technologies, commented: “The demonstration plant is essential to helping our pioneering catalyst technologies develop as they move out of the lab and into the factory. As a company, we want to help drive the market adoption of polyols and our new plant provides an opportunity for us to encourage significant uptake in the industry. The interest from polyol manufacturers and downstream polyol users in the plant has been overwhelming already. We are extremely confident that once we start demonstrating what our technology can do, we will help catalyse a transformation in attitude when it comes to the positive potential of carbon.”
Econic Technologies’ catalysts enable manufacturers to reuse waste CO2, by allowing it to be incorporated as a feedstock, which offers not only a sustainable benefit by reducing the reliance on fossil fuels but also an economical benefit by enhancing margins. The company hopes that by 2027, 30% of all polyol production will take place using Econic’s catalyst technologies, which could save 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year – the equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.
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