Research finds machines now identify 12 different types of plastics

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A team of researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University have now developed new camera technology that can see the difference between 12 different types of plastics. The study was published in the ‘Vibrational Spectroscopy Journal’.

The technology allows plastics to be separated on the basis of a purer chemical composition than is possible today, and this opens up whole new opportunities for recycling plastics. The technology has been pilot tested and is expected to be implemented at PLASTIX and Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps in spring 2022. “With this technology we can now see the difference between all types of consumer plastics and several high performance plastics. . We can even see the difference between plastics which are made of the same chemical building blocks but are structured slightly differently.We use a hyperspectral camera in the infrared domain and machine learning to analyze and categorize the type of plastic directly on the conveyor belt . The plastic can then be separated into different types. This is a breakthrough that will have a huge impact on the separation of all plastics, ”said associate professor Mogens Hinge, who leads the project at Aarhus University.

Plastics are currently separated using near infrared (NIR) technology or through density testing (floats / sinks in water). These methods make it possible to separate certain plastic fractions (for example PE, PP and PET), but not with the same precision as the new technology, and therefore not with the chemical purity of the composition, which is vital in order to be able to increase the rate of recycling of plastic waste. “The technology we have developed in collaboration with the university is nothing less than a breakthrough in our ability to recycle plastics. We look forward to installing the technology in our processing hall and seriously starting the long journey towards 100% use of plastic waste, ”said Hans Axel Kristensen, CEO of PLASTIX.

Plastic must be at least 96% pure by polymer type to be recycled in conventional industry. This means that the plastic must be separated into an almost pure product in terms of chemical composition. By using the new technology, we have now taken an important step forward, said Associate Professor Mogens Hinge, who pointed out that the technology is constantly evolving and the data indicates that it may be possible to differentiate between the types even more. of polymers and additives before long.

The hyperspectral camera technology was developed in an interdisciplinary collaboration, with BSc and MSc engineering students and researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University, as well as experts from the participating companies. The research is part of the Re-Plast project, which is funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark with DKK 22.7 million. The project is led by the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University. The other participants are the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aarhus University, Vestforbraending, Dansk Affaldsminimering and PLASTIX. (ANI)

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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