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MultiSensor sorting tools in a circular economy approach for the efficient recycling of PVB interlayer material in high-quality prodUcts from laminated glass coNstRuction and demolItion waStEs

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SUNRISE (MultiSensor sorting tools in a circular economy approach for the efficient recycling of PVB interlayer material in high-quality prodUcts from laminated glass coNstRuction and demolItion waStEs)

Reporting period: 2022-12-01 to 2023-11-30

Polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is used as an interlayer in laminated glass in construction and automotive industries. As recycling PVB presents several difficulties that prevent its reuse as an interlayer, only 9 % of PVB is recycled. Laminated glass wastes from construction and automotive origin are recycled by glass recyclers around Europe. While the target in recycling of laminated glasses is to recover the glass, PVB is considered a waste in the glass recycling process. This defines the main objective of SUNRISE to unlock a high quantity of current PVB wastes (>125.000 tons could be recycled) to be reused in high quality applications leading to economic, environmental and social benefits.
The main innovation of SUNRISE is to demonstrate within the glass recycling business, the profit in application of an advanced sorting platform based on an innovative multisensor tool able to provide information from PVB quality in laminated glass wastes, allowing the tailored mechano-chemical treatment for purification of PVB by-product. This will enable the PVB recycling and reusing best quality grades as interlayer film. This ground-breaking target will be achieved through the following main objectives:
• Developing a multisensor tool integrating information from optical sensors and using Artificial Intelligence algorithms for the inspection and classification of PVB in laminated glasses to different categories.
• Validating the sorting system in two pilot demonstrators and integrate it into a mechano-chemical pilot line with a capacity to produce 360 Kg/h of recycled PVB.
• Developing a Decision Support Tool (DST) for optimizing the process.
• Ensuring the circular economy concept by demonstrating the production of high quality recycled PVB film for laminated glass applications and other PVB fractions in the production of coatings, carpets and energy storage products.
• Evaluating techno-economic and environmental potential of the recycled PVB and ensure the market uptake by developing the exploitation strategy and by performing dissemination and communication activities.
During the current execution period (30M), WP1, WP2 and WP3 has been completed.
Milestone 1 was reached including complete data obtained on characterisation of reference and wastes samples through off-line characterisation measurements and through different optical sensors planned for the sorting system. Characterisations has been correlated obtaining data through laminated glass and the corresponding PVB. Enough information has been obtained in order to decide best optical methodologies to be implemented. In the case of offline techniques NMR was useful for determining the structure and type of plasticizer while TGA and FT-IR results have been useful in determining plasticizer content.
Within WP2, mechano-chemical steps have been optimized for glass removal depending on the type of waste (automotive and construction) and the end use. Batches of glass waste (>100 kg) have been processed also to extract PVB in larger amounts. In parallel, modelling activities of these processes have been done. A model has been successfully run and optimised in python which has been integrated in a Decision Support Tool (DST), which allow runs simulations for process optimisation.
The construction of the multisensory tool and sorting systems has been also completed. This is based on different spectroscopic methods: i) Raman sensor ii) NIR sensor and iii) Integrated sensor – based on transmittance and modified point spread function. Milestone 2 was achieved also including the construction of the 2 demonstrators of the multisensor tool prototypes and auxiliary systems.
First DEMO has been implemented in Spanish location but it is pending to finalise the integration of the second multisensor tool in the Italian recycling facilities under WP4.
Work under WP5 “Recycled PVB production in different formats” and WP6 “Incorporation of the products in real industrial applications” started during the second period of the project. The requirements of recycled PVB are being tested in comparison with benchmark materials in order to determine the modifications and/or adaptations in the end-users’ processes. First pilot produced recycled PVB films has been obtained and used in laminated glass in combination with virgin material. Mixtures with virgin materials will be needed to achieve the end-user requirements, but further work is needed in order to optimise the processes.
Finally, in WP7 assessment of project sustainability: LCA, LCCA, SLCA is done for the recycling process. Positive outcomes have been obtained when comparing with reference scenario of producing virgin material and end-uses of landfilling or incineration.
For the rest of the project these results are expected:
• To successfully validate the full sorting and recycling process by developing two pilot demonstrations in Spain and in Italy.
• In addition, the re-PVB will be transformed and optimized in order to develop various PVB products to be entered in the market. These include recycled PVB film for interlayer use, recycled PVB for dispersion and coating applications and recycled PVB for blends. Validation of final products will be done in construction, photovoltaic, textile, coatings and energy storage.
• Impact assessment and positive validation at economic and environmental level for the SUNRISE recycled products.
SUNRISE project will contribute to unlock a significant volume of plastic waste materials currently unexploited within the EU. In the case of PVB polymer, the collection of the waste polymers is already within the glass recycling value chain, however this material is considered a waste in the glass recycling process, according to previous numbers from FERVER, only 9 % are recycled. Taking into account the established collection and logistics protocols, the increase in the recycling rate is very dependent on the existance of a technical route, which allows the revalorization of the PVB leading to a benefit increase. The acceptance of SUNRISE solutions by all the recyclers who simply pay a fee by discarding the PVB will be finally translated in an increase in their recycling rate.
SUNRISE project will demonstrate the possibility to use recycling PVB as raw material for laminated glass in construction sector, closing the cycle for this specific and expensive material. SUNRISE project will contribute to develop a solid circular economy due to the solid increased demand of different products based on PVB.
In addition, the activities performed under SUNRISE have generated new knowledge related with inline optical tools and methodologies for characterization of polymer wastes in laminated glass, which has generated scientific publications. New knowledge will be generated also in the last period related with processing and applications which will push EU to the forefront in the area of recycling and will promote socially innovative solutions.
SUNRISE will have a significant positive impact on environment, health and safety contributing to keep PVB high value within Circular Economy, reducing incineration, landfilling and use of fossil fuels and raw materials and therefore reducing CO2 emissions.
Mechano-chemical treated recycled PVB flakes
Laminated glass wastes stored under recycler facilities
Demo sorting prototypes installed in Lurederra facilities
Re-PVB film produced by cast extrusion