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Development of multipurpose industrial units for recycling of plastic wastes by on-line pattern recognition of polymer features

Exploitable results

The project has covered different aspects in the recycling of plastic items coming from the WEEE and MSW sectors by means of the automatic recognition of polymers and additives: -Plastic bottles feeding. -Small WEEE feeding. -Polymer, additive and heavy element identification using 3 different types of sensors. -MIR. -NIR. -LIBS. -Integration of signals in the hybrid sensor. -Automatic sorting. This requirement lead to the identification and evaluation of suitable equipment to perform the rapid sorting process and proving the effectiveness of the advanced sensor technology. Here the partners were able to develop a design from existing equipment that was capable of sorting items at close to the target speed with reliable separation. A prototype plant was designed, manufactured and tested including feeding, transporting, sorting and ejection of a variety of waste plastic items after plastics and additives identification. The sensors and control system were incorporated together with additional equipment and the complete pilot plant commissioned. Critical trials followed and sufficient significant advances were made to call the overall result a success. It was an important breakthrough to have successfully demonstrated that, not only could equipment be developed to produce the level of sorting frequency that would be required for an industrial application, but that the modified detection sensors could also perform reliably at this speed. The partners now had the knowledge to develop the concepts of the prototype into a commercially viable product. One immediate interest had to be for recyclable bottles from MSW where existing opportunities are presented within some of the partner�s own current operations. In addition, information gained on waste electrical items (WEEE) during the project have been of great interest to all and there is no doubt that recovery of this waste will become more important in the future. It is clear from the information presented over the course of this project that there is substantial potential for wide exploitation of SUREPLAST at recovery centres and plastic recyclers. The next stage would be to carry out supporting cost/benefit analyses to provide more substantial evidence on which to base the exploitation planning. At least one partner has expressed interest as being keen to pursue the adoption of the SUREPLAST principles and derived equipment not only within it own businesses but as a marketable product in its own right. A complete demonstration plant has been built up. The project has also included a technical study of the recovered plastics to know its possibilities in the market. The complete SURE-PLAST pilot plant was finally built at GAIKER facilities, after the decision taken between GAIKER and INDUMETAL, and the evaluation was performed. ILT and INDUMETAL were at GAIKER to integrate all identification sensors into the hybrid sensor, to adjust the system and to optimise the results given by the hybrid sensor.

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