They met at Nedstaal and now the three of them are busy getting a revolutionary business off the ground. Purified Metal Company (PMC) in Delfzijl will soon clean contaminated scrap for reuse. Director Jan Henk Wijma: “This is a childhood dream. It began on a sheet of A4 and now we’ve almost come so far that we’re about to build a factory.”
A couple of years ago, while still working at Nedstaal, Wijma became aware of the problem of scrap that was contaminated with dangerous asbestos. “We realized that there was actually still no solution to this environmental problem. Contaminated scrap was therefore simply discarded with all the associated environmental consequences.” That was when Wijma began to develop the idea with Nathalie van de Poel. Bert Bult joined them shortly afterwards. Step 1 was evaluating business opportunities. They realized that cleaning contaminated scrap and melting it down again could be profitable. From that point, Wijma researched the technology to do just that. There is a clear explanation of how it works on the PMC website, including a glimpse of what the process in the factory will soon look like: “Because the molten steel reaches a temperature of 1,500 °C, the dangerous asbestos fibers are broken down to sand, glass and magnesium oxide. The entire closed factory has been specially designed to guarantee human and environmental safety during processing and transport.”
“We don’t have a background as inventors,” Wijma explains. “When we figured out that a profit could be made as a result, we also discovered that no one else had thought of it yet. We were astonished by that – for us it’s so logical. Setting it down in a patent as fast as possible was the next logical step. Because the aim was and is to develop this ourselves, and also to execute it ourselves. V.O. guided us with all the intellectual property aspects. Together with a patent attorney and their lawyers, we went through everything and applied for the patents in various countries. We also dealt with the company structure, so that everything is covered contractually.”
A childhood dream come true
Now the contracts have been signed with the builders and customers, and the permits have been arranged. “The factory will be built in Delfzijl and soon, in two years’ time, it will be delivered fully operational. Renewi (previously Van Gansewinkel) is responsible for collection. Jansen Recycling is participating in the business and guarantees the purchase of our Purified Metal Blocks – PMBs for short. Once the factory has been realized and has proven itself, then our invention will also be worth more. Then you can imagine that we can license our expertize in other places around the world. A childhood dream really come true – once just an idea on a sheet of A4, and now we’re going to build a factory. And with it, contribute to the circular economy. Instead of discarding, the decontaminated scrap steel can be reused.