Collaboration sees breakthrough Qpinch technology implemented on a commercial scale at Borealis polyolefin plant

An open-innovation collaboration project led by Borealis has resulted in the first-ever application of Qpinch technology on a commercial scale in a polyolefin plant.  

Believing in a start-up, and a technology 

The partnership began in 2018, when Borealis, a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilisers, announced its collaboration with Qpinch. This Belgian start-up had developed a revolutionary technology to recover industrial waste heat.  

By using a chemical process to raise the temperature of waste heat, Qpinch technology provides a heat lift for waste heat that could otherwise not be used. Unlike the use of conventional heat pumps, this closed-loop process minimises operational costs and electricity use. The technology is scalable from one to 50 megawatts (MW) and can process enormous levels of industrial waste heat. 

Scaling up 

The first-ever application of Qpinch technology on a commercial scale will be done in a heat recovery unit located in Borealis’ low-density polyethylene (LDPE) production plant in the port of Antwerp (Belgium). As well as testing the technology’s capabilities, the unit will test the scale-up potential for Borealis plants in other parts of the world. The new heat recovery unit in Antwerp alone will enable Borealis to save approximately 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of the annual emissions of around 1,500 compact cars. More widespread use of Qpinch technology in production facilities would enable Borealis to significantly increase the sustainability and efficiency of its Group operations.  

About Borealis

Borealis is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in base chemicals, fertilisers and the mechanical recycling of plastics. We leverage our polymers expertise and decades of experience to offer value-adding, innovative and circular material solutions for key industries. In re-inventing for more sustainable living, we build on our commitment to safety, our people and excellence as we accelerate the transformation to a circular economy and expand our geographical footprint. 

With head office in Vienna, Austria, Borealis employs 6,900 employees and operates in over 120 countries. In 2020, Borealis generated EUR 6.8 billion in sales revenue and a net profit of EUR 589 million. OMV, the Austria-based international oil and gas company, owns 75% of Borealis, while the remaining 25% is owned by a holding company of the Abu-Dhabi based Mubadala. We supply services and products to customers around the globe through Borealis and two important joint ventures: Borouge (with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, or ADNOC, based in UAE); and Baystar™ (with TotalEnergies, based in the US). 

About Qpinch

Qpinch introduces breakthrough technology to reduce industrial emissions and energy use. The Qpinch Heat Transformer uses chemistry inspired by nature’s energy system (the ATP-ADP cycle). With this patented and novel approach, it overcomes the hurdles faced by conventional technologies to upgrade waste heat into process heat. The large scale and broad applicability position Qpinch as a strategic solution to reduce emissions cheaper and faster in petrochemicals, food & beverages, paper & pulp, and other industries.

Qpinch BV is a spin-off from Ghent University with headquarters in the Port of Antwerp.