Circular Economy: Getting Crude Oil Back Out of Plastic

OMV’s ReOil technology uses thermal cracking to transform plastic waste into gas and synthetic crude oil. The technology is expected to reach industrial scale by 2025.


Extracting crude oil out of plastic is a cost- and energy-intesive process. The plastic needs to be heated to more than 400°C, which breaks the long-chain molecules of the plastic and produces synthetic crude oil. However, plastic is a poor conductor of heat, so how can the necessary heat be added to the used plastic?

OMV’s ReOil team has found a solution with a new solvent.

“This solvent is part of a cycle in the [ReOil processing] unit, meaning that it’s already hot. It is mixed with the plastic right at the start of the process, supporting the heating stage and reducing the energy needed thanks to better heat conductivity. What’s more, pure plastic would be too tough to transport through pipes. Adding the solvent also enables us to address this problem,” said OMV’s New Technology Expert Wolfgang Hofer.