01/17/2024 | Green Innovation

Interview with Luis Hoffmann | Head of Polymer Recycling Technology at Sulzer

In an industrial setting the key to a sustainable future is one that opens far more than a route to ethical production. Sulzer`s Luis Hoffmann shares a few insights into what that means.

ACHEMA Inspire: Partnerships seem to play a role within much that you do in terms of driving sustainable solutions. How key are they in achieving results?

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: At Sulzer, we are committed to reaching our own sustainability targets, including carbon neutrality by 2050. But the bigger picture for us is about helping the chemical industry transitioning. We’re doing this by getting our sustainable technologies into our customers’ hands. For us, the speed of implementing such novel technologies is key – both in terms of our own success but also for a rapid transition to a new bio-based and circular carbon industry. Partnerships such as our own company’s collaboration with VTT on polystyrene recycling help us to accelerate such developments and help generate great results by leveraging the joint expertise.

ACHEMA Inspire: On that note, does the same apply to customer interfaces? Again, a case in point may be advancing the potential in biofuels, for example.

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: Indeed. Novel projects like the production of bio-based fuels or in chemical polymer recycling require a different approach compared to many more traditional projects. Our target is to be more than just suppliers but true partners with our customers. We are jointly building new value chains which requires close collaboration far beyond the normal supplier-customer relationship. With our first references in place, we feel confident this is the rights approach and look forward to further strengthening our footprint in these growing industries.

Achema Inspire: ACHEMA Inspire: You have a fairly broad remit in terms of R&D subjects in your field. Where do you see the greatest advances in the next few years?

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: Certainly, we have a broad range of technologies currently being developed within Sulzer. Next to further improving our existing portfolio of purification and separation technologies, largely focusing on improved product quality and reduced energy demand, we are developing a range of process technologies in the fields of bio-polymers, bio-based fuels / chemicals, carbon capture and utilization as well as polymer recycling. In all those fields we have seen great advances and foresee more coming within the next few years, but just to give a few examples: We are working on a process to turn waste concrete and CO2 into Limestone, a new building material, are also working on novel bio-polymers with advanced properties enabling the further replacement of fossil-based materials and are working on heat-pump-like systems to electrify distillation processes while significantly reducing the specific energy demand.

ACHEMA Inspire: You see great potential in biofuels from renewable sources. Can you expand on that?

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: While we are seeing a global trend of cars and trucks being electrified, commercial planes in the foreseeable future cannot follow the same path. Here, the high energy density of hydrocarbon fuels is crucial for long-haul flights. By switching from fossil-based fuels to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), made for example, from used cooking oils however, we reduce our dependance on fossil fuels. For ground transport, short and mid-term biodiesel offers an opportunity to reduce net carbon emission. Our BioFluxTM technology is used to produce both alternative fuels. Our unique process technology also contributes to making the production of these fuels less carbon intensive by having a lower energy demand and thus higher efficiency compared to competing technologies.

ACHEMA Inspire: ACHEMA Inspire: You’ve also made headway on your plastic recycling solutions?

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: Yes, we’ve made significant progress in developing our plastic recycling solutions, primarily through strategic partnerships and collaborations. With Worn Again Technologies, we’re addressing post-consumer textile waste by combining their polymer recycling technology with our separation processes. Our collaboration with VTT targets to scale a process to recycle polystyrene waste, while working alongside Fuenix Ecogy Group, we integrate their technology to transform mixed plastic waste into raw material for new plastics. And our partnership with BASF complements these efforts, by leveraging their chemical expertise in adsorbents and catalysts to further improve our purification processes. These collaborations allow us to offer end-to-end process technologies for several waste materials and are integral to our strategy, driving innovation and sustainability in plastic recycling.

ACHEMA Inspire: ACHEMA Inspire: And what are the biggest achievements you are most proud of?

  •  __Luis Hoffmann: Ultimately, we can only be successful with all those efforts with strong teams driving these projects. In 2022, 92 per cent of our employees confirmed that they strongly believe in products and services that we provide. This makes us incredibly proud and will enable the successful completion of many mire projects to come. 


ACHEMA Inspire staff

World Show Media



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