Development of a Spectroscopic Molecular Bar-Code Reader for the Rapid Identification of Municipal and Industrial Plastic Waste

EPA Contract Number: 68D50119
Title: Development of a Spectroscopic Molecular Bar-Code Reader for the Rapid Identification of Municipal and Industrial Plastic Waste
Investigators: Jiang, Yanan
Small Business: SpectrCode Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1995 through October 1, 1998
Project Amount: $219,949
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1995) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The need to recycle solid plastic waste is becoming increasingly acute in view of the limited availability of both landfill space in which to dump plastic trash and the petroleum reserves needed to replace discarded material. The National Research Council has identified the need for a rapid and reliable means of chemically identifying plastics as a Critical Technology. Without such a means of identification, it will not be possible to reprocess the billions of pounds of plastics that are being landfilled or incinerated every year. This Phase II proposal builds on Phase I success to offer a new spectroscopic device that is able to positively identify the chemical composition of plastic waste containers and scraps at rates that could ultimately exceed one-hundred pieces per second. This innovation in essence can be described as a Molecular Bar-Code Reader.

The effort proposed will put Phase-I-proven principals into practice by building commercial prototype devices form rapid plastic identification using laser spectroscopy coupled with advanced optical signal generation, separation, and detection technologies. The end result of Phase II R&D will be three functioning plastic identification systems:

  1. a transportable system with hand-held read head,
  2. a battery-powered portable hand-held unit, and
  3. an OEM sensor prototype for use in automated solid-waste sorting.

These systems will be suitable for field testing and demonstration to secure Phase III support and establish a solid technology base for commercialization.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, engineering, chemistry., Scientific Discipline, Waste, Chemical Engineering, Municipal, Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, municipal waste plastics, waste recycling, plastics identification, plastics sorting, spectroscopic molecular bar code reader, molecular bar code reader, chemical composition, municipal waste, sorting system, bar code reader, recycling, waste processing, solid waste, plastics, industrial plastic waste, rapid identification

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final