Revolutionary Solutions New Filtration System Reduces Plastic Pellet Loss

Author / Editor: Ahlam Rais* / Ahlam Rais

With a mega investment of 7-million-dollars, Borealis has developed a new filtration system with assistance from the Technische Universität Wien and the Graz University of Technology. The system boasts of reducing the loss of plastic pellets into the environment in order to meet the goal of zero pellet loss.

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Interior view of the filter system at Borealis’ Schwechat site in Austria.
Interior view of the filter system at Borealis’ Schwechat site in Austria.
(Source: Borealis)

Sea beds across the globe are predicted to carry 14.4 million tonnes of microplastics, according to a recent study by Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Industrial and Scientific Organisation (CSIRO). This includes plastic pellets which easily enter waterways from nearby plastic producing units. To deal with this issue, the international initiative from the plastics industry – Ocean Clean Sweep (OCS) was developed in order to reduce plastic pellet loss into the environment. The chemical company Borealis is an active member of the OCS and is also a signatory to the regional programme – ‘Zero Pellet Loss’ in Austria. Hence, the company is constantly exploring new ways to achieve the goal of zero pellet loss.

New Custom-Built Filtration System

The firm has recently upgraded its existing water treatment system at its integrated production facility in Schwechat, Austria to further minimise plastic pellet loss. The highlight of this effective process is the incorporation of a new custom-built filtration system.

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Developed by Borealis with a hefty investment of 7-million-dollars, the filtration system comprises of two separate filtration units which are used for multi-stage treatment of clean water. The unique aspect of this system is its ability to filter a broad range of total suspended solids (particle sizes – from millimetres to micrometres). The equipment is installed downstream from existing polymer separators and acts as an additional layer of protection.

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The filtration system was installed in November 2019 and successful tests have confirmed that the Schwechat facility is now even more effective in reducing the risk of plastic loss. Consistent internal monitoring of wastewater flows ensures that emissions always remain within stringent regulatory parameters. “Our previous system was based on gravity separation. With this new investment, we upgraded our system to state-of-the-art filtration technology. The purification capabilities we had in place in Schwechat were already good, but the upgraded system shows a level of sophistication that is leading in all of Europe,” states the company in an email interaction with PROCESS Worldwide.

The firm adds, “There was no off-the–shelf technology available to suit our needs and expectations, hence we had to custom build our solution together with partners from universities and technology providers. Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien) and Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) were mostly involved in the initial phase, i.e. understanding the emission situation.” The design and testing were done by Borealis along with various technology providers.

Meeting the Goals of Zero Pellet Loss, OCS

Borealis has plans to enhance its operations across all its production units as well as the whole value chain in order to meet the goals of the European ‘Zero Pellet Loss’ and OCS. “We intend to deliver on our commitment to reducing pellet loss in order to achieve our ‘Goal Zero’ of no losses whatsoever,” mentions the firm. Last year, the company was one of the contributors for drafting new stringent requirements for the OCS programme in Europe which is coordinated by Plastics Europe.

In Conclusion

In today’s plastic-driven world, there is an urgent need for effective and efficient solutions such as the filtration system to make the environment pellet free. We hope that the future brings many more exciting technologies and solutions for the benefit of a greener and cleaner world.

* The author is an editor at PROCESS Worldwide. Contact: ahlam.rais@vogel.com

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