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What matters is that it’s carbon

15. June 2011

Utilisation of plastic waste as a secondary raw material for producing carbide

In the chemical industry, carbide is an important base material for fertilisers and in the production of raw iron. Until now, the synthesis of carbide has principally been based on the use of coal and coke, which have become increasingly more expensive as a result of the high worldwide demand for energy. However, the carbon required for producing carbide can also be obtained from plastic waste. The BINE Projektinfo brochure “Producing carbide using plastic waste” (08/2011) presents a new process that enables the material- and energy-based use of residues from the processing industry and is now entering regular operation.

The manufacture of one tonne of carbide requires between 3,200 and 3,500 kWh of electricity, whereby one tonne of lime and 0.6 tonnes of coke and coal are used as the raw materials. In order to partly replace them, the new synthesis process also enables the use of sorted, pre-selected and shredded waste from the plastic processing industry. The test production has confirmed the excellent product quality of the carbide produced and the emission values conform to the statutory required limit values. Heavy metals and chlorine compounds are filtered out.  Because they occur in very concentrated form in the filter dust, this produces very little waste that can be relatively cheaply disposed of in comparison with alternative recycling processes.

The new process has been developed by a southern German chemical company. In future, it plans to produce more than 10% of the carbon required for the carbide synthesis using plastic waste. A market survey that the company conducted in advance has shown that sufficient amounts of waste are already produced from plastic processing industries in the surrounding region.