Startup Profile

Antarctica Labs

Singapore, Singapore

Because recycling doesn’t work: break down your plastic waste into carbon powder (no CO2) and clean energy (H2) at vending machine reactors near you!

The Problem:

Plastic is actually a wonderful material — light, cheap, malleable and non-biodegradable — but it is thus also difficult to get rid of! Recycling is infeasible for most types of plastic. Sorting and cleaning is also required, which is inconvenient for consumers. Alternatively, incineration creates massive CO2 emissions. Is there another way? How might we break down plastic with no sorting, cleaning and net CO2 emission — so that we can use plastics responsibly without creating pollution?

The Solution:

We use pyrolysis to break down all plastic waste (no sorting) into carbon nanotubes (no CO2) and hydrogen, providing clean energy to offset energy use. We then proliferate vending machine-sized reactors in the community, so consumers can eliminate their waste and change their behaviors! Emissions from transporting and sorting waste are also avoided. Plastic waste is thus eliminated at source; consumers are empowered; and plastic can be used responsibly without creating global pollution!

The Differentiator:

Pyrolysis is not new but we have several key differences with typical applications of pyrolysis for treating plastic waste 1) Antarctica Labs forms carbon nanotubes (as a black solid powder) from plastic waste, keeping the carbon "captured" and out of the atmosphere, unlike others who turn plastic waste back into oils which eventually still get burnt into CO2. 2) We are using solid oxide fuel cells to convert the H2 gas back into energy, thereby significantly reducing the net energy consumption of pyrolysis. 3) We are aiming to build vending machine-sized reactors to be distributed throughout the community (at schools, malls, office pantries, underneath apartment blocks, etc.) so that it encourages consumers to eliminate plastic waste themselves. It also eliminates the carbon penalty of transporting plastic waste to distant processing plants.

Biggest Achievement:

1) Have already built a full-scale prototype (vending machine-sized), which is a 100x scale-up of the original lab benchtop demonstrator. 2) Catalyst performance is good, with >60% (exact performance is even higher) conversion of plastic waste into carbon nanotubes and hydrogen. 3) Have developed the consumer-facing UI and gamification app wireframes to encourage consumers to eliminate their plastic waste with us, based on user surveys and testing.

Programme themes:

Circular Economy & Waste ReductionCarbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage

Team members:

Dawen Choy