Agilyx attracts cash for turning plastics to oil

Portland, Oregon area start-up lands $22 million to ramp up technology which turns recycled plastics into a synthetic crude oil which can be refined for fuel or other oil-based products, such as plastic.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
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You've heard of turning recycled plastic bottles into floor carpeting or clothing. How about back into oil?

Digging through a high-tech recycling center (photos)

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Tigard, Oregon-based Agilyx said that it has raised $22 million in a series B round to further develop a process for converting plastics into a synthetic oil, which can be refined for transportation fuel or used to make plastic or other oil-based goods. The round was led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers which joined venture capital firm Chrystalix and corporate investors Waste Management and Total Energy Ventures International.

The company has developed a multi-step process which it says can convert about ten pounds of mixed plastics into one gallon of crude oil.

To make oil, it heats plastics to the point where they turn into a gas. There is then a condensing stage, which converts the gas back into a liquid and removes impurities.

Agilyx is now operating a demonstration plant, which is selling oil to a refiner, and intends to sell its equipment to plastic handlers and recyclers which deal with large volumes. The synthetic crude oil can be refined on site or shipped to standard refiners and the net carbon footprint from its technology is favorable, according to the company.

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The technology can produce oil at about $45 a barrel, Brian Wawro from Chrysalix told Sustainable Business Oregon.

The investment from high-profile investor Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Buyers could be a sign that technologies to recycle or reduce waste will gain favor with investors and entrepreneurs. One of the limits to making fuel from biomass is the cost and availability of feedstock.