Lifetime Achievement
Lucie Wheeler headshot
Clean50 Lifetime Achievement Award Logo

Lucie Wheeler

President, Sweet Gazoil

Simply becoming the first female refinery engineer for Shell Canada was not enough for Lucie: Over the past 30 years she’s subsequently been the primary inventor or co-inventor listed on 25 patents and 16 outstanding patent applications. And at a point at which most are retired – or at least contemplating retirement, Lucie is neither: Going full tilt on her latest – a novel anti-fouling, ultra-fast, continuous pyrolysis technology called Surface-Flash-Cracking (SFC) which permits the transformation of heavy waste oils destined for disposal, and can also process hard-to-recycle mixed plastic waste (Pyrolysis is a way of deconstructing products back to their chemical components with heat). Commercialization of the SFC process will help divert thousands of gallons of waste oil and tons of dirty mixed plastic from the environment and landfills. Lucie is also the leading force behind the improvements that are being made at a batch plastic pyrolysis unit in Thetford Mines, Québec. Her innovative thinking has reduced a two-step process to a single-step process that drastically increases the efficiency and reduces the energy consumption of the process, but critically, also improves the quality of the products, as the oils obtained from the pyrolysis do not need further refining or can be recycled into plastics. The high profitability, small capacity, and low capital cost of the system relative to other pyrolysis units makes the diversion of mixed waste plastics from landfills/incinerators accessible to smaller communities and is thus a step towards zero-waste.