While synthetic plastics date back to the late 1800’s it wasn’t until after WWI in the 1920’s did companies such as DuPont revolutionize the industry with their introduction of Nylon66. After WWII a wave of new innovations within the polymer industry was upon us. It was at that time Bepex began working with a new polymer called polyethylene terephthalate, or “PET”, which today is a polymer used in the production of beverage bottles and food packaging, fleece, strapping, films and many other common household items.
While Bepex has roots dating back to 1897, it entered the PET industry in 1958 by blending PET using its existing ribbon blender technology. However, Bepex had an array of process technologies from which it worked with – heating, reacting, material handling, and cooling to name a few. Using these and other technologies the company began to develop a continuous solid state polymerization – or SSP process – in 1971. This work eventually culminated in the company’s first commercial continuous SSP system installation and a US Patent entitled “Process for solid phase polymerization of polyester” US 4161578 in 1978.
From this foundation further polymer process and process equipment developments continued within Bepex. Bepex issued patents within the polymer industry are as follows:
Over the past forty years Bepex has by itself or through our licenses custom designed, fabricated, installed and supported in the commissioning of over 100 state polymerization (SSP) systems on 6 continents. These custom designed SSP systems have been fabricated and installed for polymers such as PBT, PET and PA-66. Resin grades included engineered plastics, industrial yarn and High-Modulus Low-Shrinkage (HMLS) polyester tire cord.
It was during this SSP growth period that Bepex heavily invested in polymer research and development and its own solid state polymerization pilot plant – known as PolyQuest™. The PolyQuest™ facility, still in use today, provides for a unique platform for rapid process development of new polymers specifically within the solid state polymerization reaction value chain. The flexibility and adaptability of the system is unrivaled in industry even today. It is from this facility and the company’s existing strengths within the polymer industry that Bepex started to develop a PET recycling process technology.
In the early 2000’s Bepex process engineers began working on PET recycling projects for both external customers and as internally funded research projects. From this learning and the fundamental understanding of the basic science of the polycondensation reaction during SSP of polymers a new PET recycling process technology was born. The differentiating factor behind the new technology is that the BePET™ recycling process allows the simultaneous decontamination and IV control (up, down or maintain) of PET flakes in an FDA approved continuous process. A more detailed review of the BePET™ process can be found here.
Extensive bench scale and pilot scale experiments were conducted before moving through the FDA approval process. As of today the BePET™ process exceeds FDA decontamination guidelines for categories C through H. The process has received an FDA Letter of Non Objection at 100% rPET content. Additionally, due to the history and existing experience Bepex has in traditional continuous processing of SSP for virgin PET we are able to offer a proven system with full automation.
Bepex has recently confirmed its first commercial BePET™ recycling process system sales to Thanh Tai Gas Company of Vietnam. The system was custom designed to meet the specific requirements of the client’s needs and is currently being fabricated. The system when fully installed by early 2012 will be capable of recycling enough PET to produce over 1.5 Billion average water bottles per year.
While a United States FDA Letter of Non Objective is a required regulatory hurdle we continue to work to obtain European and Brand Owner (Coca-Cola & PepsiCo) Approvals to further gain wider market acceptance of the BePET™ recycling process technology.
We look forward to earning your trust as we look to support your PET recycling process technology needs – now and into the future. Contact us to learn more.