In the face of the large amounts of waste plastics being accumulated today, various methods for the proper disposal or recycling of the plastic packaging, have been developed in many European countries.Recycling is always preferable, however, in order to make it efficient or economically attractive, it is vital to sort waste plastic with an optimum purity level. The present project aims to combine Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) with Infrared (IR) spectroscopy in order to achieve high success rate in plastic waste sorting at high speeds. The activities within the fundamental research project BE-7717 have shown that LIBS can identify, with 100% accuracy, PVC and PET fractions an PP, LDPE as well as HDPE with lower accuracy with a speed of three items per second; additionally various important additives, such as heavy metals and halogens, used in plastics as flame retardants or colourants, can also be detected by LIBS. On the other hand commercially available IR spectroscopy based sensors can identify almost all plastic fractions (PP,PE,PS,PVC,PET, ABS) albeit at slow speeds. Both techniques use relatively expensive equipment, e.g. for conventional LIBS an optical multichannel analyzer with a spectrograph are needed with an average cost of more than 40000 ECU. The proposed hybrid sensor will employ relatively cheap and robust equipment, compatible with the use in industrial environment, and will combine the advantages of both techniques, in order to achieve a high accuracy sorting rate among all commercial plastic fractions (PP, high and low density PE, PVC, PET, ABS) at speeds around or beyond ten pieces per second, which is the current state-of-the-art achieved by the plastic sample singulation units. The partnership comprises 3 Research centres, 1 University department and 2 industries with complementary expertise on both the sensors and polymer technologies, as well as 2 industries involved in waste recycling, which are responsible for the exploitation of the envisaged prototype.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
WR1 1RJ Barbourne - Worcester
100 44 Stockholm