Clinical-stage biotechnology company PharmAust (ASX: PAA) wholly-owned subsidiary Epichem has been awarded a $45,200 grant from National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) to advance a carbon-neutral solution for recycling plastic waste.
The funding has been provided under the GeneratER Open Innovation Challenge Program and will help Epichem develop an oxidative hydrothermal dissolution (OHD) pilot program for application by a multinational oil and gas energy client.
NERA joined forces with Shell Australia to identify WA-based businesses with innovative solutions to segregate plastic from co-mingled waste.
Epichem’s unique solution turns waste into recyclable products by using restorative and regenerative design solutions, eliminating the need to send waste to landfill and also creating new commercial opportunities.
Epichem will help Shell by using a process that liquefies plastic and changes its chemical structure to the extent that the re-formed plastic is biodegradable or can be re-purposed into another end-product.
The solution will allow Epichem to help its client improve plastics recycling across operations in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, using a novel “circular economy” system which converts plastics into reusable products.
OHD can also be adapted to other industries and sectors where plastic waste is prevalent.
The pilot program is expected to be completed before the end of October.
Foot in the door
Shell Australia’s general manager of supply chain, Ashley Bates, said the GeneratER program has enabled Shell to identify new recycling solutions and partner with local businesses that can help address their business challenge.
“We are pleased to be a part of NERA’s GeneratER program, working with companies like Epichem to further develop technologies with the potential to help Shell actively reduce waste across our Australian operations.”
Epichem head of production Dr James Rixson said the GeneratER process has provided the company with a valuable “foot in the door” of a global business such as Shell.
“It is helping us to showcase the cross-sectoral application of our technology,” he said.
“GeneratER will also enable us to demonstrate our [own] technology on a real-world industry challenge [and] is a vital stepping stone in our journey towards commercialisation.”
Decarbonising the energy sector
NERA is a federally-funded, not-for-profit organisation working with partners in government, research, science and industry to help decarbonise Australia’s energy sector.
The GeneratER program provides businesses with the opportunity to pilot solutions to drive innovation, improve productivity and grow local economies.
It aims to identify, showcase and pilot a range of solutions to highlight challenges across various industries.
NERA said GeneratER fosters a “collaborative environment of innovation”, while attracting solutions from world-class technology providers such as Epichem which have identified applications for their services across multiple sectors.
Experience in drug discovery
Epichem has been delivering synthetic and medicinal chemistry products and services to drug discovery and pharmaceutical industries in over 40 countries for more than 18 years.
The company has purpose-built, state-of-the-art laboratories and world-class equipment to support drug discovery projects and the cost-effective synthesis of drug analogue libraries and intermediates.
It also has a rapidly growing catalogue of pharmaceutical reference standards.
The recycling pilot with Shell Australia is anticipated to be completed in early October 2022.