Sensor Fusion for Contaminant Detection and Removal From Plastics Recycle Streams

EPA Contract Number: 68D00254
Title: Sensor Fusion for Contaminant Detection and Removal From Plastics Recycle Streams
Investigators: Sommer, Edward J.
Small Business: National Recovery Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through March 1, 2001
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The Phase I objective is to determine the feasibility for development of an efficient cost-effective technology for small metals detection and removal from the recycled plastics stream. Also, this effort examines the feasibility for integrating this technology into a shared resources environment with National Recovery Technologies' (NRT) newly developed high-speed polymer sorting technology. Postconsumer plastics have become a tremendous burden on our waste disposal system. Although plastics constitute only about 9 percent by weight of municipal waste, they occupy approximately one-fourth the volume of the waste stream. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends recycling of plastics as the best solution to the problem. However, contamination of plastics within the recycle stream by foreign materials is a major impediment to widespread plastics recycling. Postconsumer recyclables are of inherently low value in the marketplace and have to compete with low cost, mass-produced virgin materials. Consequently, for recycling of plastics to be economically viable, it is necessary that processing systems for recycled plastics be highly efficient and low cost. Efficient high-speed sorting technology has been developed recently by NRT to remove problematic contaminant polymers from plastics during processing for recycling. A remaining significant problem is the presence of small metallic contaminants in the plastics stream that cause considerable problems to the processor during the extrusion of recycled plastics in making new products. Removal of these metallic contaminants using existing technology has proven to be difficult and expensive.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, solid waste, recycling, plastics, metals removal, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Municipal, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, municipal waste plastics, waste recycling, complex waste plastics particle mixtures, recycling, plastic, plastics

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report