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DEMETO Modular, scalable and high-performance DE-polymerization by MicrowavE TechnolOgy

Country: Italy

Client: Funded by EU

Company in charge: NextChem

Project Highlights



DEMETO project aims to enable chemical de-polymerization of PET at industrial scale thanks to its microwave-based process intensification of the alkaline hydrolysis reaction; the process at the base of DEMETO technology allows to recovery and recycle the monomers, closing PET life-cycle through a circular economy value chain, reducing plastics market dependency from natural resources and improving drastically the environmental footprint of PET production.

The project has four main objectives.


  • Recycle PET waste to the same monomers necessary for virgin PET production, being capable of elaborating bottles (even deep coloured ones), textiles and blended polymers. The production plant industrialized by DEMETO will guarantee strong robustness to impurity and low-quality of feeding waste materials, enabling effective in-process separation of high-grade EG and PTA from additives and contaminants. 
  • Reduce reaction time of PET chemical recycling from 180 minutes to 10 minutes while guaranteeing a continuously operating elaboration of material thanks to innovative Process Intensification. The major technical advancement of the project is the exploitation of microwave effect on PET (within specific boundary conditions) to reduce drastically the de-polymerization time.  
  • Design and deploy an industrial-grade prototype of Reactive Unit for de-polymerization based on modular and scalable technologies. The core chemical processing of PET waste, to bring it back to its constituting elements, is based on a de-polymerization reaction whose dynamics is intensified through an innovative usage of microwave radiations.
  • Deploy a pilot plant and auxiliary facilities to demonstrate an overall self-consistent recycling process. The strategy towards the market of DEMETO’s innovation project lays its foundation on realizing a small-sized industrial plant for de-polymerization (i.e.: around 800-1000 t/year of PET potentially treated), whose purification process will use a specialized electrolysis of NaCl (the Chloralkali process) to satisfy the overall demand of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl), validating the feasibility of a self-consistent production where all by-products are fed back to the system. In addition, the plant will be the cornerstone of the marketing strategy for the project business deployment, acting as showcase for commercialization.

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