PharmAust (ASX: PAA) subsidiary Epichem has entered into a 50:50 joint venture agreement with Western Australia-based private company Obsidian Minerals to develop a novel and disruptive waste-to-fuels technology using an oxidative non-catalytic dissolution process.
The two companies will form a new entity known as Perren to commercialise the conversion process that turns waste into valuable fuels, fine chemicals, agricultural growth stimulants and ethanol.
The process will employ a benchtop flow reactor technology deemed to be carbon-neutral and environmentally-sustainable, and which uses oxygen and water at high temperatures and pressures to break down input materials and form useful end products.
It has the potential to convert plastics into renewable fuels and useful chemicals; coal into diesel, agricultural biostimulants and fine chemicals; rubber tyres into liquid fuels and chemical products; trees into cellulosic ethanol and fine chemicals; leftover stock or crops into liquid fuel; and agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol and agricultural biostimulants.
Epichem chief executive officer Colin La Galia said the flow reactor may also have application in the minerals recovery sector.
“This technology could make a significant contribution in our local capacity to deal with waste and produce diesel, liquid fuels, biofuels, liquid fertilisers and biostimulants,” he said.
“The flow reactor has the potential to help with the problem of what to do with the waste produced in WA… it may help [the state’s] focus on sovereign capability to produce our own ethanol for our personal protective equipment requirements in Australia including the manufacture of hand sanitiser.”
“It can be scaled up for a range of industry partners and could create employment opportunities in WA and Australia moving forward,” Mr La Galia added.
Grants and funding
The Perren joint venture agreement extends from now until 2022.
The companies are currently seeking government grants and funding support and investment to create the flow reactor technology.
Mr La Galia said this low cost but high potential initiative could be groundbreaking in its end uses.
“We welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Obsidian and share our technology, science and chemistry capability and expertise.”
“We look forward to be able to provide novel and disruptive technologies to our customers, support relevant industries, contribute to the economy and have a positive impact on the environment,” he added.