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Latest developments in the polynSPIRE project

polynSPIRE project is progressing according to the plan and currently, there are activities in 8 different work packages. We would like to highlight following activities:

1. The Slovenian National Institute of Chemistry (NIC), Centre of Research for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE Foundation) and Fricke and Mallah (FM) are working together on a solution of microwave-assisted chemical depolymerisation of polyamides and polyurethanes. NIC demonstrated in a laboratory that a process which includes few cheaply available chemicals and heat, provided by microwaves, is feasible. CIRCE is working closely with FM in order to scale up the process, and achieve one of the goals of the project, creating a demonstration reactor which is able to depolymerise 500 litres at once. Currently, CIRCE and FM are evaluating the basic reactor concept and they are preparing to start developing the reactor.

2. Valorisation of plastic waste in the steel sector is an important part of our project, and the work is spearheaded by RINA CONSULTING - Centro Sviluppo Materiali S.p.A. (CSM). A goal is to develop an injection system for the utilization of recycled heterogonous plastic materials into Electric Arc Furnace (EAF), in order to reduce the consumption of coal (as carbon supply and foaming agent) by the use of a significant quantity of plastic waste. So far, the following activities have been carried out:

  • Characterization of waste materials;

  • Design of the injectors, purposely designed for plastic grains;

  • The plastic grain characteristics have been improved;

  • The design of the industrial pneumatic system has started, and it is at 70% completed.

3. An innovative route is developed for the chemical recycling of polyamide (PA) and polyurethane (PU) waste materials using Ioniqa’s proprietary Smart Magnetic Material (SMM) catalyst technology. The design of the SMM enables a facile recovery of the catalyst and improved process efficiency. During the first stage of the project, the lab-scale depolymerization of PA and PU waste materials was demonstrated. Currently, the design and engineering of the pilot reactor is ongoing. The goal is to demonstrate the SMM technology for the chemical recycling of post-industrial and post-consumer PA and PU waste materials on Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 7.

4. AITIIP Technological Centre, together with other partners, is working on an improvement of recycled materials by means of advanced techniques. Here, two different methodologies are being used, the creation of vitrimers from recycling materials (PA and PU) and the irradiation of the PA and PU waste with gamma rays or electron beam. The aim of these two technologies is to generate crosslinking between the polymer chains, which allows improving mechanical and thermal properties of recycled material, achieving properties similar to raw materials.

Figure 2 Zwick Roell machine used for tensile testing and sample position on this testing machine

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