Sorting and Plastic Recycling
Last modification : Thursday, September 8, 2022
The KU Leuven research group on Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has in close cooperation with their industrial partners acquired significant experience in re- and demanufacturing, which includes reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling of various waste streams, as well as the dismantling of products into their components or composing materials. The KU Leuven has recently established the Re- and Demanufacturing Lab in Heverlee to support these research activities. The multidisciplinary ten-headed team working in this lab has in the framework of various national and international projects developed and installed various setups in this lab with state-of-the-art automated, spectroscopic, computer vision and ICT equipment for material characterization, robotic sorting and robotic dismantling. The research group ambitions to further develop their lab and infrastructure together with the related software and expertise in this field. This to support equipment manufacturers and recycling companies in developing the next generation of processes for sustainable demanufacturing and recycling and to support original equipment manufacturers in developing more sustainable (consumer) products in the ongoing transition towards a more circular economy.
Description of the research topic
The envisaged research will be part of the Horizon Europe project titled “Increasing recycled content in added-value products for a resilient and digitized circular economy” (INCREACE) (approved in the call HORIZON- CL4-2021-RESILIENCE-01). In this project KU Leuven will collaborate with in total 16 other European partners, of which companies (Philips, Erion, CABKA, Neste, Pezy Group, Plastika, Vorwerk Elektrowerke, Partners for innovation, Mirec, PAS, SAP, EGEN), research institutes (Fraunhofer IZM, Fraunhofer IVV, VITO) and other renowned universities (Maastricht University, ETH).
In this project, KU Leuven will lead a “Data-driven plastic sorting, analysis and traceability” work package. The main objective of this work package is to enable a data-driven optimization of the sorting processes and higher traceability during the pre-processing of plastic recyclates. To achieve this, more detailed data is needed on the material composition and characteristics throughout the processing steps that are commonly adopted. Therefore, sampling procedures, artificial intelligence-driven sorting, and characterisation methods to define the composition of plastic recyclates during pre-processing will be developed. By validating the developments during experiments with state-of-the-art sorting equipment constructors (Redwave and Pellenc), KU Leuven aims to establish EU broadly accepted procedures to control the consistency and quality of recyclates for specific applications.
A small multi-disciplinary team of researchers is foreseen to work on this project at the Re- and Demanufacturing Lab of the Lifecycle Engineering group of KU Leuven. Therefore, in the context of the INCREASE project:
Description of the vacancy
For more information please contact Prof. Jef Peeters, tel.: +32 16 32 25 69, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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