FROM PAPER WASTE TO BIO-PLASTICS
The idea of the Paper-P process was born to solve an environmental and economical problem typical of the printing and cellulose manufacturing industry.
The most important elements of the problem are linked to:
1 – low market value of cellulosic waste,
2 – high cost of ink- and solvent disposal,
3 – the will to find alternative, more economically and environmentally sustainable solutions for no-more recyclable paper.
From this will of research for new solutions we started a to study the combination of possible technological solutions to obtain high added value products from cellulosic wastes.
HOW IT WORKS
We developed a completely new hybrid thermo-chemical and biological process, coupling a thermo-chemical degradation (pyrolysis) and a sequence of biological conversions that allows to convert cellulosic wastes in polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), a bio-degradable plastic of natural origin characterized by an extended range of applications, such as bio-packaging and wires for 3D printings.
The value of PHA, on the basis of its functional characteristics, is 10 times higher than the value of recycled paper.
From a functional point of view, the most important innovation of the process derives from the possibility to convert paper waste into a completely new material, PHA, that can be used in place of petroleum-derived plastics and can also be used together with cellulosic products.
The key of the process is the use of a bacterial mix that can convert the pyrolysis products in a bacterial substance rich in PHA.
The extraction through low environmental impact solvents allows to obtain a PHA characterized by a high degree of purity and directly usable.
The process of pyrolysis can be applied to any cellulosic material (recyclable or not), including materials containing residues of ink or solvents, and at a lower cost if compared to the chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis.
The process control system developed by our technicians is the core of the system. A specifically developed software allows the technicians to keep the whole process continuously controlled.
Figure 1: Graphical description of Paper-P process and of the key chemical transitions. From pyrolysis onwards the whole process is managed and controlled by a specifically developed software.
FROM WASTE WATERS TO BIO-PLASTICS
The Paper-P process, that transforms paper in bio-plastics (PHA), can be applied, in a simplified version, even to the process of waste water treating.
The water depuration mud of livestock and cheese factories can naturally contain some of the bacteria that are able to accumulate PHA.
If we add the Bio-Pro plant as a “plug-in” of the purification plants already existing in the factories, it is possible to obtain significant quantities of PHA directly from depuration mud, and these quantities can help to improve the economical results of each single factory, open them new markets, develop new materials and products.