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Austria: Recycling Plant OMV’s Re Oil Facility Produces Synthetic Crude from Plastic Waste

Editor: Ahlam Rais

The pilot plant comprises a processing capacity of up to 100 kg per hour and can churn out 100 liters of synthetic crude per hour. The facility makes use of a thermo-chemical process to produce synthetic crude.

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OMV invested around 11 million dollars in the project as a whole, with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency subsidising 10 % of the costs.
OMV invested around 11 million dollars in the project as a whole, with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency subsidising 10 % of the costs.
(Source: OMV Aktiengesellschaft)

Austria – As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations in the Schwechat Refinery, OMV presented the cornerstone for an innovative future to political representatives and stakeholders, namely the Re Oil used plastics recycling facility. The pilot plant uses a thermo-chemical process to produce synthetic crude from plastic waste.

OMV has been exploring the potential of used plastics since 2011. In 2013 the first test facility started up in the Schwechat Refinery with a processing capacity of around 5 kg of used plastics per hour. The next-level test facility – with a processing capacity of up to 100 kg per hour – started operations in 2018 and produces 100 liters of synthetic crude per hour. This crude is then subjected to further processing in the Schwechat Refinery to become fuel or base materials for the plastics industry – creating a resource-friendly, circular economy.

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OMV invested around 11 million dollars in the project as a whole, with the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) subsidising 10 % of the costs. The recycling process involves thermal cracking at temperatures exceeding 300 degrees Celsius. This is a proven refining technology under which medium and long-chain hydrocarbons are cracked into shorter-chain hydrocarbons.

This means that this circular economy is also based on a circular technology: short-chain crude oil is turned into long-chain plastics which are then turned back into short-chain crude by means of the Re Oil method. OMV holds the patent for this process in Europe, the USA, Russia, Australia, Japan, India, China and many other countries.

With this innovative research project OMV is contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals as laid out by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The recycling method has already been fully incorporated into the processes in the refinery and the research team has already started on its plans for the next-level plant.

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