Sensor Fusion for Contaminant Detection and Removal From Plastics Recycle Streams

EPA Contract Number: 68D01065
Title: Sensor Fusion for Contaminant Detection and Removal From Plastics Recycle Streams
Investigators: Sommer, Edward J.
Small Business: National Recovery Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 2001 through September 1, 2003
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2001) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Post-consumer plastics have become a tremendous burden upon our waste disposal system. Although plastics constitute only about 9 percent by weight of municipal solid waste, they occupy approximately one-fourth the volume of the waste stream. The U.S. 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. Post-consumer 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 National Recovery Technologies (NRT) to remove troublesome contaminant polymers from plastics during processing for recycling. A remaining significant problem is the presence of small metallic contaminants in the plastics stream, which 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. The Phase II research is directed toward development of an efficient, cost-effective technology for small metals detection and removal from the recycled plastics stream and for integrating this technology into a shared resources environment with NRT's FlakeSort - high speed polymer sorting technology based on the information obtained during Phase I.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, plastics, recycling, pollution prevention, waste management, sorting, solid waste, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Municipal, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Hazardous Waste, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, Hazardous, municipal waste plastics, hazardous waste disposal, polymeric waste, waste recycling, new end products, complex waste plastics particle mixtures, municipal waste, recycling, plastics, small metals detection

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report