Epichem’s successful e-waste project could create new revenue streams for PharmAust, as it eyes the lucrative waste and mining industry.

PharmAust (ASX:PAA)’s goal of building a technology to convert waste to valuable assets has taken a major leap forward today.

PAA’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Epichem, has just completed the Oxidative Hydrothermal Dissolution (OHD) e-waste project funded by the government with promising results.

The project, conducted as part of the $16.7m Western Australian Government New Industries Fund, has proved that the OHD technology could convert and repurpose e-waste into useful end products, recover valuable metals and produce useful, high-value chemicals.

Using the technology, results showed that plastics were able to be removed via oxidative dissolution, thereby isolating a bunch of byproducts of major metals such as gold, tin, copper, iron and zinc.

No such thing as a minor metal

Minor metals were also identified including silver, barium, nickel, chromium,magnesium and manganese.

The results also showed that the technology can be used to convert plastics in the e-waste into small organic molecules, which can potentially be repurposed or made into biodegradable materials.

“The e-waste project using OHD has delivered promising and encouraging results,” Epichem CEO, Colin La Galia says.

“We will continue to research and optimise the technology, process different waste streams and enter into commercial agreements with key stakeholders to validate their waste potential.”

Environmentally friendly technology

Epcihem had earlier completed building the world’s first flow reactor using the  benchtop Oxidative Hydrothermal Dissolution (OHD) technology, which could turn a wide range of waste and biomass feedstock into valuable products.

OHD is a novel, disruptive technology which was developed by Australian Ken Anderson, founder and chief technology officer of US-based Thermaquatica, and licensed to Epichem.

The OHD process uses flow technology through a flow reactor, which uses some key ingredients such as molecular oxygen at high temperature and high pressure. It requires no catalyst, so there are no emissions.

As part of the e-waste project, Epichem has now discovered that it can convert and repurpose waste using two potential techniques – continuous flow and the semi-batch processing technique – giving it flexibility to use the process most suited to different feedstock or biomass.

Given this capability, Epichem can optimise the OHD process specific to different waste materials, and determine the OHD processed solids biodegradability via respirometry tests.

Other feedstock and biomass input that could be taken into consideration now include coal, agricultural plant matter, solar panels, batteries, textiles and anti-corrosive film.

Revenue potential

Using the OHD process, the flow reactor also has the potential to convert plastics into renewable fuels – coal into diesel, or rubber tyres into liquid fuels.

It could also turn trees into cellulosic ethanol, as well as turning leftover stock or crops into liquid fuel.

Epichem’s CEO, Colin La Galia, told Stockhead previously that the first opportunity is to work with clients to address and convert their waste problem; in other words, make their waste go away.

This would then lead to the reduction in the amount of landfill, which is the direction that the world is heading towards.

In Australia, the company is capitalising on recent Australian policies at national, state and local government levels towards zero organic waste to landfill.

Not only that, the technology used in the flow reactor could also be used to enhance the process of carbon storage in soils, which has wide ranging applications within the minerals recovery sector.

Following these successful results, Epichem said it’s now in confidential discussions with mining and waste industry stakeholders regarding the use of the OHD technology.

This article was developed in collaboration with PharmAust, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.