The polymer industry, including producers, converters and machine manufacturers employ 1.6 million people and generate annual sales worth over €300 billion. Europe is the world leader in plastics recycling and the second worldwide plastic producer, but competence by emerging industrialised nations, such as China, is growing bigger and represents a major thread for European interests in mid and long term. There is recently a big concern towards the recycling of wasted materials, including plastics. Despite the growth of recycled materials in the polymer sector, there are presently two main factors that prevent a higher use of recycled materials: Uncertainty in fixing final product density and quality of the final product, which is directly affected by viscosity of the blend. Yet despite this tremendous competition, many polymer processes still rely on trial and error for their optimisation, leading to the creation of enormous tonnes of scrap during adjusting periods. Current methods, which enable only indirect measurements such as temperature, screw torque and pressure, prove completely insufficient for characterising such complex behaviour. The industry needs rapid, reliable, non-invasive and cost effective analytical methods for process control in order to ensure desired values of density and viscosity of the polymer. This project thus proposes to develop a compact, non invasive, real-time sensor based on an ultrasonic piezoelectric transducer for in-line measurements during polymer processes. POLYSENSE will be designed for suitable insertion in a standard pressure port, which will enable the in-line measurement of density and viscosity of the polymers while circulating in a molten state inside the machine allowing the prediction of the polymer behaviour and the feedback to the process control. The proposal is highly relevant for the SME proposers who are polymer processors and will thus benefit directly as end-users from the developed POLYSENSE technology by incrementing the ratio of cheap recycled material within their products and increasing final product quality, or equipment builders and suppliers who will benefit from supplying this innovative technology to the European polymer processing industry.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs
HR2 6JQ Hereford