These are the details for the profile Method and apparatus to discriminate different type of plastic materials.
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An Italian research institute, with experience on development of X-ray diagnostics in nuclear fusion, developed a method to separate different kind of electric and electronic plastic wastes, for recycling. This technology, based on an innovative scheme using soft X-rays, is simple, compact, portable and suitable for a continuous- flow processing. Partners as industries are sought for technical cooperation agreement.
An Italian research institute developed a method and apparatus to distinguish and separate dark-colored WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive) plastic wastes, for the recycling process.
This patent was born in a group which has been working on magnetic nuclear fusion for many years, where the development of X-ray diagnostic with high temporal resolution (in the scale of microseconds) is crucial for the study of plasma physical fast processes (like magnetohydrodynamic instability, turbulence and heating). Competencies also in X-ray spectroscopy and imaging were also developed working in this research field. For that reason, the research institute has gained decades of experience in the development of new X-ray detectors for fast two-dimensional soft-X imaging and new diagnostic techniques.
The developed method enables to select non-recyclable dark plastics when they contain Bromine and, for non-brominated, to discriminate the type of plastic.
The innovative technique combines X-ray fluorescence spectra, generated by the sample, with its selective absorption of an optimized set of X-ray lines. The experimental apparatus requires only an X-ray tube of low power working in the energy range 2-35 kV and a commercial X-rays spectrometer.
The analysis of the acquired spectra, affected by the plastic sample, allows the recognition of the most common types of plastics. This specific analysis of the X-ray spectra allows removing the possible degenerations, increasing the range of response, and then the sensitivity of the method. It works for plastic materials with thickness between 1 and 5 mm.
This new technique permits also to reveal the presence of mineral charges or fillers (as Calcium and Magnesium), in general added to plastics to confer mechanical properties, flame retardants (as Bromine or Antimony), pigments (as Titanium) or other metals due to the contamination in the destruction process, although all of these impurities are not representative of the type of plastic.
The system allows for transportable ex situ analysis as well as for integration with a continuous-flow system in view of automation for large-scale recycling of the plastic wastes.
Industrial partners are sought for technical cooperation agreements in order to test at industrial scale and to apply the newly developed technology in the sectors of plastic recycling from post-consumer or industrial wastes.
The main advantages of this sorting plastic waste technology are the simplicity and compactness of the apparatus, the low energy consumption required and the eco-compatibility (no pollutants and no hazardous materials or exhausts). Moreover the technique is non-invasive, fast (a few seconds), and suitable for installation in an industrial environment, scalable, low-cost, easy to use, self-calibrated and fully automated.
Standard X-rays techniques, cannot discriminate different plastic materials, but can only select the brominated plastics and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). The proposed technique includes also the X-ray fluorescence analysis.
Italian patent has been requested
- Type of partner sought: industry operating in the field of production and post-consumer recycled plastics.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: manufacturer of plastics, recycling industry
- Task to be performed by the partner sought: complete the verification test of the technique on an industrial scale; application of the technology in the sectors of recycling plastics.