New R&D and HSEQ experts to help us shape a more circular future
What does it take to become a game-changer in plastic recycling? Groundbreaking technology, of course, as well as a great deal of ambition, perseverance and tons of expertise. Pryme has it all. Pascal Spiekerman and Caroline Lievens, respectively our new HSEQ and R&D managers, add 60 years of experience in oil, gas and renewable energy to the mix. Meet the experts!
Quite a lot has happened at Pryme since plant manager Sander Schiereck and CTO Joeri Dieltjens, whom we introduced in an earlier article, joined our team. We strengthened our strategic cooperation with Shell, secured the lease of a site at the Port of Amsterdam suitable for building our second production plant and made progress in many other fields. It was, therefore, high time to expand our team further. That’s when Pascal Spiekerman and Caroline Lievens came into the picture.
Constantly optimizing our chemical recycling process
Caroline swapped Twente University (the Netherlands) for Pryme in February 2022. As our R&D manager, she is responsible for the Pryme test facility at Ghent University, which opened in May 2022.
“In Ghent, we perform a wide range of tests and analyses to ensure the smooth start-up and operation of our first plant in Rotterdam,” Caroline explains. “The test runs will be primordial. While our chemical recycling technology is really trustworthy, the quality of the petrochemical end-products largely depends on the specific plastic feedstock. That’s why we need to test with many different parameters, not only in the run-up to the opening but also later. After all, the composition of plastics changes all the time. We’ll have to be able to process every material.”
Caroline will work together with (PhD) students from Ghent University to experiment with different feedstock and look for ways to optimize our chemical recycling processes, among others through electrification.
An expert in renewable energyAs a research chemist (see bio below), Caroline has 25+ years of experience in analytical chemistry, particularly in the field of renewable energy (biomass pyrolysis, gasification, geothermal energy, etc.). Plastics pyrolysis, though, is new to her, which made Pryme’s job offering especially attractive. “I’m eager to learn new things and I love to dive really deep into a particular topic,” she says. “Chemical recycling opens up so many innovative opportunities. As Pryme is a start-up company, I was sure they would give me the room to explore the technology to the full and help shape their future. That’s what convinced me to get on board.”
Passionate about innovation
Just like Caroline, HSEQ director Pascal Spiekerman has an impressive track record in the petrochemical, oil and gas sectors and is passionate about innovation. His experience goes back to the nineties, when he started as a process operator at Texaco and then Shell (see bio below). Over the years, he became an expert in health, safety, environment and quality. His jobs at Koole Terminals opened the door to Pryme Cleantech: in 2017 he carried out a feasibility study for the first Pryme plant. In November 2021 he joined the team as HSEQ Director.
“Koole Terminals is a storage company located at the port of Rotterdam. By working for them in Spain, Germany and Poland, I learned all about storage, processing and logistics in the oil industry, about the specifications of port sites and about renewable energy, too,” Pascal says. That know-how is pretty useful for Pryme. So, in addition to looking into HSEQ matters, Pascal helps to search for new sites abroad, is responsible for the recently leased site in Amsterdam and, just like Caroline, gets every chance to help shape Pryme’s future.
Meaningful solutions to the plastic waste problem
“I’ve been interested in renewables ever since I first started in this sector,” Pascal goes on to say. “Back in the nineties already, I was involved in an innovative project to recycle cans into material for compact disks. In 2017, I became responsible for renewable energy projects at Koole Terminals. So, my new role at Pryme Cleantech is a perfect fit. We humans have the responsibility to save our planet. We can’t really shrink the economy but we have to focus on recycling and re-using our resources. Why buy something new when it already exists?”
Caroline agrees: “It’s shocking to see how we all collect plastics to then ship this waste abroad, emitting even more CO2. I’m happy to put my expertise in alternative energy sources at the service of Pryme and help create a meaningful solution to the plastic waste problem.”
About Caroline and Pascal
The world of chemistry has been Caroline Lievens’ natural habitat for over 25 years. She holds a PhD in Chemistry and a master’s degree in soil science and worked in the field of biomass pyrolysis, gasification and geothermal energy in international consortia, including Shell, around the world. Between 2015 and early 2022, Caroline managed and reorganized the GeoScience laboratory (facilities and staff) at Twente University in The Netherlands.
Pascal Spiekerman van Weezelenburg started his career as a process operator in 1992, first at Texaco and later at Shell. In 2000, he began focusing on health, safety, environment and quality (HSEQ) in a series of different roles. As an HSEQ manager and later ‘responsible for special projects’ at Koole Terminals, Pascal deepened his knowledge of renewables and learned all about storage, processing and logistics in the petrochemical industry as well as the specifications of port operations.