Creation of a technology-based firm (TBF), Olax22, which will be behind the recovery plant for waste ink paste generated during the graphics printing process and obtaining from such waste added-value products such as thinner, varnish and black ink for offset.
The plant will apply the new technology successfully tested at lab-scale for the recovery of waste ink solvent-based paste from the washing of flexographic and rotogravure printing machines from the industry sector.
Both the solvent and the varnish may be reused by the same companies that generate waste, while solid pigments will be used, in principle, for manufacturing black ink for offset (newspaper printing).
Currently, waste products for these inks—solvent-based and therefore flammable—are treated as toxic and hazardous residues by those who fundamentally eliminated them through incineration in cement. Olax22 will collect these waste products from the printing industry and recover the various components for reuse.
Innovation Objectives and Opportunities (Motivation)
Before the construction of the industrial-scale plant takes place, a development and implementation phase that includes the construction of a pilot plant at the University of Alicante will be carried out, which is part of the project that is financed by the InnoCash programme to valorise technologies.
The University of Alicante is responsible for the research, which will be carried in four stages: 1) pilot plant construction; 2) optimization of the plant; 3) evaluation of the industrial-scale products; 4) assessment of the industrial-scale equipment.
Olax22 expects with this innovation project that printing companies can do the following:
- Better manage the collection of waste ink. Reuse components recovered at a very competitive selling price as raw material in the very companies that generate the waste.
- Contribute to waste minimization plans for these companies. The intended goal is to meet in the third year of project implementation nearly 20% of such waste generated by the domestic market.
The idea of creating a TBF arises from the collaboration between staff of the "waste, pyrolysis and combustion" research group from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Alicante and a businessman from the printing industry.
Presently, the recovery process of products from ink paste has been developed at lab-scale. Furthermore, very positive results of the applicability of the products have been verified by sending lab-obtained samples of solvents, varnishes and pigments for offset inks to independent companies manufacturing or distributing these products.
The technology developed by the research group is transferred from the University of Alicante, its original owner, to the spin-off created (Olax22). The university owns 10% of the shares in the new company.
Partners Involved in the Project
The Olax22 team consists of the promoters Andrew Fuller and Ignacio Aracil Font Sáez, professors from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Alicante, and Rafael Garcia Vidal, CEO of the GAVIPLAS S.L., who is the private investor. The first two participate in 10% each of the capital and the third partner contributes with 70%. The remaining 10% is completed by the University of Alicante.
Entity that Assumes the Project
The TBF Olax22 will carry out the development of this initiative.
InnoCash Programme Funding Framework
To finance the initial development and implementation phase of process, whose cost is estimated at € 226,575 (24% of total budget), the InnoCash programme approved a grant for that amount.
The total financial requirements for establishing the TBF have been estimated at 944,575 €, thus the remaining 718,000 € is provided by private investment, which will be devoted primarily to the construction of the plant. Grant applications for NEOTEC of the CDTI and ICO credits, which are compatible with the financing of the InnoCash programme, will be also requested.
The reasons why the funding was approved by the InnoCash programme are: 1) a technology that has proven to be feasible at lab-scale; 2) the opportunity to create a TBF that exploits the knowledge generated in public research centres; 3) the promotion of the eco-innovation sector that, besides being a social impact, is a growing business; 4) the combination of management experience with a recognized scientific and technology background in the field of waste recovery in the team promoting Olax22.