National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

VADXX Energy

January 31, 2014

Company Info:

VADXX founder, Bill Ullom, shows off some of the waste plastic that soon will be converted to petroleum products at the company’s pilot plant in Akron, Ohio.
Credit: Silicon Investor

VADXX is a high tech, recycling company that converts recyclable and non-recyclable plastic into higher value energy products.  VADXX’s technology offers an approach that captures the energy embedded in plastics and returns it to a useful form of society, while realizing environmental and social benefits.   This conversion process is a valuable alternative for overflowing landfills, as well as reducing demand for foreign energy.  VADXX Energy is headquartered in Akron, Ohio.  As a winner of the Cleveland Adopt-a-City grant for 2013, the company was looking forward to working with NASA Subject Matter Experts.

 

“I am writing to give a big THANK YOU to the team at NASA-Glenn for all the help your folks have provided VADXX Energy.  The objective of all this was to take another step forward with the VADXX Plastic to Energy commercialization efforts.  The results are now in and the NASA-MAGNET-City of Cleveland-VADXX team effort was a resounding success!!”
-Jim Garrett, CEO, VADXX Energy

Challenge:

VADXX Energy manufactures synthetic crude oil using solid waste streams that would otherwise be ultimately disposed of in a landfill.  These materials include auto shredder residue, agricultural plastics, sterilized medical waste, scrap tires, synthetic fibers, difficult-to-recycle industrial products, municipal plastics, electronic waste, residue from paper mills, commercial roofing, and disposable environmental containment apparatus.  In order to be even more efficient, VADXX wanted to look at methods to maximize petrochemical products output by optimizing distilling kiln characteristics.

Solution:

NASA engineers used their expertise to develop analytical models for predicting throughput.  They identified throughput rates and residence times as a function of polymer decomposition kinetics, polymer viscosity, kiln tilt angles, kiln rotation rates, and zone (3) temperatures.   These models provided an analysis of the methods that were being used and helped predict potential improvements in the process.  Jim Garret shared:  “All of that will be extremely valuable to VADXX as our technical team “fine tunes” our commercialization efforts with our Rockwell-VADXX engineering/design team.  As  you are well aware, just minor efficiency improvement yields enormous economic benefits for additional energy production for VADXX commercial units.”

Benefits:

NASA collaborated with VADXX to develop analytical computer models for predicting throughput rates for converting unrecyclable plastic into energy products, helping the company’s technical team fine-tune commercialization efforts.  VADXX Energy has closed a financing for its first commercial-scale plant to turn plastic waste into energy.  The first unit will be built in Akron, Ohio and is scheduled to come online in early 2015.  VADXX Energy expects the regional operation will recycle almost 60-tons per day of waste plastics, diverting them from landfill disposal.