Project ReCOOL for Life+


The ReCOOL project’s main objective was to successfully demonstrate a new technology that allows for the world’s first recycling of used glycol, a waste product that state of the art technology treats as toxic, hazardous and non-recyclable. The technology has been developed by our company since 2008, and has been validated on a laboratory scale. The objective of the LIFE+ project, was to demonstrate this highly innovative technology in a pilot production line/process and disseminate the results to key target groups, in order to prepare for a roll-out in the EU. The ReCOOL project therefore contained two sub-objectives:

  • A complete and fully functional pilot production line to be tested at Recyctecs’s existing production facility in Jönköping. The demonstrated pilot installation was to serve as a base model for future full-scale recycling in Europe.
  • The dissemination of the fully functioning technology to potential customers, partners, stakeholders, target groups, and other interested third parties in Europe and other regions.


The ReCOOL project was divided into 11 complementary actions, all aiming at achieving the objectives of the project. They were:

Action A1 Planning and procurement
Action B1 Re-construction of production plant and new facility
Action B2 Installation of equipment
Action B3 Demonstration of production process
Action C1 Monitoring and evaluation of pilot production line
Action C2 Evaluation of socio-economic impact
Action C3 Monitoring and evaluation of the project actions
Action D1 Communication and dissemination
Action D2 Networking
Action D3 After-Life+ Communication plan
Action E1 Project Management and Monitoring of project



The project started in July 2013.

Action A1:

Planning and construction of the enlargement of the plant was achieved, however with two important changes, leading to reductions in capital expenditure and operating costs. The new prototype unit was built in the new building, permitting production to be continued in the “old” building with a minimum of disturbance. The distillation step was deemed unnecessary judging from tests in the pilot scale evaporator. It also became clear that the cost for the prototype would be much higher than expected. The removal of the distillation step therefore became vital to ensure that the process would be commercially viable, once rolled out across the EU.

Action B1:

The changes planned under Action A1 were implemented, the new building was completed and tanks, heat exchangers, pumps and a vacuum evaporator were purchased.

Action B2:

Piping and electricity installations were coordinated with the installation of the new, prototype equipment. However, without the distillation step, which was omitted as planned in Action A1. The main problem in Action B2 was the fact that the delivery of sub-standard roots pumps delayed the project approx. 8 months.

Action B3:

The supply of waste glycol was secured via contracts with 10 waste handling companies. However, varying quality of incoming glycol caused additional testing and process adjustments. Test runs demonstrated that the pilot line is capable of purifying waste glycol to a purity of >95 % glycol. Capacity at project termination was 3,7 million litres of used glycol.

Action C1:

Monitoring/evaluation was an important part of the demonstrations in Action B3 and the tests were therefore conducted in parallel with Action C1. A key focus was on monitoring and evaluation of the innovative process step “Thermal Treatment” but other process parameters have also been analysed and monitored by officially approved methods. LCA and LCC analyses were not completed due to early termination of the project.

Action C2:

The socio-economic study was not completed, due to the project’s cancellation. However, the evaluation of the process led to Recyctec being certified ISO 14001.

Action C3:

Monitoring and evaluation of the project progress was done in conjunction with the other actions and most tasks completed according to plan.

Skog med solstrålar som tränger sig fram bland träden

Action D1:

Communication and Dissemination: General progress of the project has been communicated in Pan European Networks, 2015, issue 16, page 76, “A Perspective on re-used glycol” (Annexe 7.3. B) and in Adjacent Government, 21/01/2016, Recyctec Holding AB, “Re-using glycol – a more eco-friendly alternative” (Annexe 7.3.C). For cost-efficiency reasons, a specific project website was not started, instead information about the project was (and is) available on the existing Recyctec website Study visits at the facility in Jönköping have been abundant. Recyctec participated in more than 6 conferences and exhibitions, such as Elmia Avfall och Återvinning, the largest Swedish forum for waste management and recycling, September 2014, and LIFE Conference “Supporting Entrepreneurship in Europe” Brussels, October 2014.

Action D2:

Networking: Recyctec has been approached with a request for co-operation – study of Sustainability and Replicability of LIFE projects for the period 2007–2016. Contact has also been established with the BIOforLIFE project, Cyprus, a LIFE + project. However, due to the problems with project management, and the fact that networking was to take place at the later stages of the ReCOOL project, compared with the planned output and time schedule, these activities came late in the project, with delivery dates after the project had been closed, hence Action D2 has not been completed according to plan.

Action D3:

After Life+ communication plan: The After Life+ plan was not completed, due to the fact that the project was stopped prematurely.

Action E1:

Project management: Project management was headed by Recyctec’s CEO Göran Ahlquist, who replaced Ulf Olsson from Q3 2014. Göran also handled the dissemination activities in the project. The change in management led to a delay at the start of the project of approx. 12 months, and this was the main delay that affected all subsequent actions. This also caused the organisation to loose correspondence with the European Commission and was the reason why the Inception report was not completed according to the formal criteria. In addition, a supplier of technical equipment delivered sub-quality machinery, and was then slow to provide replacement, delaying the demonstrations approx. 8 months. Even so, the technical tasks have more or less been performed according to plan, albeit with some delays and changes to the process. In general; the delay in action B2 and the delay in action C1 mostly impacted these specific Actions. The main issue was the delay in the start of construction, which led to the winter period postponing construction even further.

However, there were, as previously indicated, issues regarding the administrative management of the project. The main problem being that Recyctec had to change Managing Director twice during the period between the project’s start in July 2013 and the project termination in January 14, 2016. This unfortunately meant that the communication with the LIFE program has not been managed correctly, forcing the EU Commission to terminate the project before the planned end date. In this situation, Recyctec decided to complete the project, with financing from its shareholders.

Long term benefits

Although the project has been cancelled prematurely, the tests of Recyctec’s technology on a pilot scale were performed and verified to work in the ReCOOL project. The analysis conducted during the project confirmed the figures forecast in the application which shows that consumption of glycol and the lack of recycling opportunities means a yearly waste today of approx. 200 000 to 220 000 tons in the Nordic countries and approx. 9 million tons worldwide. Lowering the volume of waste glycol being incinerated or deposited by approximately 10 million litres per year from the third quarter 2016, and rising up to 270 million litres per year once the whole of the European market has been penetrated. A full market roll-out will also lead to a reduction in import of MEG (Mono Ethylene Glycol), of 35 million litres/year when the total European market is considered. The project therefore comprises a decisive and crucial contribution to the implementation of the waste management principles of the EU by preventing waste generation, recycling waste and improving the handling of the waste today being incinerated or discarded into sewers.

Uppförsbacke med skog runtomkring

Summary of results

The following quantitative results were reached in the project:

Expected main results Achieved results

ReCOOL will demonstrate the world’s first production of Glycol with >95% purity equal to virgin glycol: the recycling of 36 000 litres (test runs) and 10 million litres (full-scale) of used coolant/anti-freeze.

The main objective was reached (albeit with a different technical set-up than initially planned); i.e. recycled glycol with a purity of more than 95 % purity has been produced in the project before it was terminated.

Test runs recycling 36 000 litres of used coolant/anti-freeze have been achieved (in the end approx. 1 million litres were recycled, i.e. significantly more than the 36 000 litres originally planned for).

Due to the early termination of the project, the recycling of 10 million litres of used coolant/anti-freeze (full-scale) was not fully achieved. The capacity for recycling was at the terminating date of the project 3,7 million litres.

(However, the volume of 10 million litres of used glycol was later reached 14/01/2017, without the need for any additional investments).

The project will lead to a near 100% removal of water during all stages.

The objective was reached, i.e. the remaining water content varies between 1,2% to 2% (typical value). We can concentrate to about 1 % water content. The final concentration influences the production capacity. The contract with our largest customer is now based on > 95 % (i.e. max 5% water content).

The project will demonstrate the possibility of recycling the same material several times (the goal is in eternity); thereby further minimizing the use of new resources.

Due to the early termination of the project, the objective was not reached.

(However, there is every indication that this will be possible in the future. We are presently selling the recycled glycol Earthcare in small quantities and once it is sold in larger it will be possible to recycle the material several times.)

The project will demonstrate an energy-efficient process using steam.

The objective was reached, i.e. the new process enables savings of 40-50 % of the energy compared to the original distillation process planned in the GA. This reduces operating costs correspondingly.

Raw material supply secured.

The objective was reached, i.e. signed contracts with a total of 10 suppliers of used glycol (please see Action A1).

Distribution of project results to many hundreds of actors within the European waste industry.

The objective was reached to a large extent. Distribution of project results has been made to enterprises and organisations within the European waste industry, potential target groups for further up-scaling of the technology through licensing of the technology. Great interest has been generated for the Recyctec technology, from Norway, Greece, India and South Korea.

The Project ReCOOL for Life+ (LIFE 12 ENV/SE/000292) has received funding from the Life Programme of the European Union.

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