The Enval Process

Enval has created a unique solution for recycling plastic aluminium laminates using microwave induced pyrolysis. Our process is clean, efficient and economical for both post-consumer and industrial waste.

Why are plastic aluminium laminates important?

Plastic aluminium laminates consist of aluminium foil sandwiched between plastic layers. This material combines lightweight, flexible properties, with protection against gases (including oxygen), moisture and light.

Laminate packaging has been widely adopted by FMCG companies to reduce the ratio of product-to-pack weight, transport costs and emissions, and the weight of material that has to be disposed of after use. The use of laminates for everyday goods such as juices, toothpaste, cosmetics and pet food has increased considerably in recent years, with more than 160,000 tonnes of flexible laminate packaging entering the UK marketplace each year.

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Benefits of flexible packaging

Compared to rigid containers, flexible packaging considerably reduces energy use, plastic consumption and packaging weight.
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less energy in production

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less plastic

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decrease in weight of packaging

What is microwave-induced pyrolysis?

Pyrolysis is a process in which organic material, such as paper or plastic, is heated and broken down in the absence of oxygen. It is an important waste management tool because it allows for the disposal of industrial and post-consumer waste while producing valuable products that can be used as chemical feedstock or to generate energy.

With microwave-induced pyrolysis, heat energy is provided in the form of microwaves. The process can be configured to operate under gentle mechanical conditions in order to extract fragile materials without damaging them. It is powered by electricity, eliminating the need for a chimney stack and providing the option to use a renewable source of energy.

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The Enval process

In our process, shredded plastic aluminium laminates are mixed with carbon. When the carbon is exposed to microwaves, it reaches temperatures of up to 1,000 °C in just a few minutes. This heat energy is then quickly and efficiently transferred to the plastic by conduction.

The fragile aluminium foil remains undamaged during this process. It can be recovered in solid form, clean and ready for reprocessing. The plastic component degrades to form a mixture of hydrocarbons. This mixture is then cooled down and separated into gas and oil. The gas can be used to generate the electricity required to power the process, and the condensed oils can be sold as fuel or feedstock for speciality chemicals.

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Enval’s low-carbon aluminium

Enval’s low-carbon aluminium

Recycling aluminium through the Enval process leads to energy savings of up to 75%. With a purity exceeding 98% and a minimum metal yield of 80%, it can be directly reintroduced to the resmelting process. A typical Enval plant produces 200–400 tonnes of aluminium a year, depending on the feedstock.

High value pyrolytic oil

High value oils

The pyrolytic oils generated by the process can be used as chemical feedstock or for energy generation. The Enval process can easily be configured to adjust the balance between the gases and oils that are produced, according to the operator’s requirements.

Want to know more? Learn all about the Enval plant. Find out more