VolCat is an IBM technology that converts PET into a material that can e fed directly back into machines as raw material for a new product. This is a catalytic chemical process.
At 200 degrees, PET products (bottles, containers, fabrics) are combined along with a chemical catalyst. The pressure cooker kind of equipment creates the heat and pressure for the catalyst to break down and clean the PET material. The process dumps the contaminants and makes it ready for a new PET product. The residue of this process is a white powder. And this white powder is put into a PET reactor to produce a virgin quality PET product.
This process makes plastics recycling even more smart compared to other plastic recycling ideas. In comparison to other traditional plastic recycling processes, the newer recycling processes will disintegrate coloured as well as clear plastic products.
This IBM’s technology starts with heating PET combining it with ethylene glycol in a reactor, with catalyst added. After de-polymerisation, the catalyst is removed by a distillation process. The filtered solution is then purified, and cooled. The remaining liquid plus the catalyst is then once again introduced to the de-polymerisation reactor.
While, normally, polyester reactors are fed petroleum-based ingredients, it is believed by IBM that in five years, recycling companies would stop using petroleum-based ingredients, replacing it with IBM’s VolCat technology to produce new PET products. Once the VolCat Technology comes into play, people may not be required to sort the different materials before recycling. Any polyester trash can then be picked up for recycling and converted to a totally new product.