All eyes were on K 2022 when circular economy took centre stage as a major theme. Demonstrations of the latest recycling technologies, machines, tools and materials add new dimension to this sector of the plastics industry.
Some noted developments are EREMA's innovative EcoGentle® plasticising technology that consumes less energy; SONGWON's contribution to the mechanical recycling industry with its range of re-stabilisation antioxidants; and Rapid Granulator's ONE-step solution for plastics granulation.
EREMA's plasticising technology
As the demand for recycled plastics grows, so does the size of the machines. This applies to the processing of polyolefins as well as to PET recycling. EREMA enters a new dimension in recycling with innovative EcoGentle® plasticising technology presented at K 2022. The new models of VACUREMA® Basic technology are unique in their scale and production capacity. With a throughput of up to six tonnes per hour, they also consume 10% less energy than comparable systems without the new EcoGentle® plasticising technology.
In the PET recycling segment, EREMA proved its expertise as a partner for unique large-scale recycling projects several times last year. At the end of 2021, EREMA delivered a large-scale VACUREMA® Basic 2628 T plant for the first time with a production capacity of up to 40,000 tonnes of rPET granulate per year. Since then, throughput capacity has again been significantly increased. "Up to six tonnes per hour are possible with our new plasticising technology," Michael Heitzinger, Managing Director at EREMA, explained. EREMA's plasticising unit EcoGentle® has significantly reduced energy consumption. Measurements on a VACUREMA® Basic 2628 T system resulted in up to 12% total energy saving (specific total energy consumption, kWh/kg) and 30% - 47% energy saving for the extruder drive on VACUREMA® Basic plants from size 2021 upwards. Additionaly, EcoGentle® handles the melt in an impressively gentle way. At the same time as achieving unprecedented high throughputs, thus increasing productivity.
The decisive factor here is the further perfected interaction of the intake section and extruder screw as a result of the combination of the EcoGentle® plasticising unit with the proven Counter Current® technology. The optimisation of compression ratios ensures better feeding performance, and the selective exploitation of elongation flows, together with a number of other rheological optimisations, results in a particularly homogeneous melt and a wider process window. This makes it even easier to compensate for fluctuations in the input material without negatively impacting process stability. Due to the significantly lower temperature, the melt is processed more gently overall. The result is even lower acetaldehyde (AA) values, which translate into producing even higher quality rPET pellets.
This development is also based on the know-how bundled in the EREMA Group. Essential core components for EcoGentle® are manufactured in Austria by 3S, one of EREMA GmbH's sister companies.
EcoGentle® plasticising technology from EREMA reduces energy consumption by 10%.
SONGWON’s approach to mechanical recycling
With the emphasis on sustainability continually growing, mechanical recycling of PCR (post-consumer recycled) has become an essential process in the circular economy that demands more sophisticated technologies. To address the rapidly increasing demand for sustainable solutions related to design, performance, recycling and lifecycle of plastics, SONGWON has made a significant contribution to the mechanical recycling industry with its range of re-stabilisation antioxidants.
SONGWON has adopted a pragmatic approach to solving recycling challenges and focused on sustaining the properties of most PCR plastics through re-stabilisation. Although antioxidants are not generally used in the post-consumer recycling (PCR) of polyolefins, SONGWON's family of SONGNOX® Binary Blends (primary and secondary antioxidants) was specially evaluated for the mechanical recycling of polyolefins. SONGWON's blends improve processing as well as long-term thermal stability and, in this way, make it possible for mechanical recyclers to offer improved, cost-efficient recycling resins.
“When no stabilisers are added during processing, the melt-flow characteristics of mechanically recycled polypropylene change rapidly, sometimes so drastically that it results in poor processing and the loss of mechanical properties. In such situations re-stabilisation is recommended,” explains Thomas Schmutz, Leader Global Technical Service, Testing & Application Development. “SONGWON's Binary Blends work surprisingly well in the mechanical recycling of polyolefins, are generally sufficient to protect the polymer during processing and subsequently lead to better quality and cost efficiency.”
SONGWON’s Binary Blends work well in the mechanical recycling of polyolefins.
Rapid Granulator enhances size-reduction solutions
Size-reduction technology specialist Rapid Granulator introduced a new ONE-step solution for plastics granulation. The highly regarded, popular Raptor Series with the “open-hearted” design is now available with a true “open-hearted” integrated grinder. Other notable design features are the unique service and maintenance access it provides. The new design is a result of 80 years of accumulated knowledge in size reduction in order to maximise profitability for customers.
“The Raptor DUO Series is a shredder and granulator combination. It has all the benefits that a heavy-duty shredder provides combined with the granulator. It enables the production of granules directly from a huge purging in just ONE step. The DUO features dual door systems - a genuine ‘open-hearted’ design. We have seen how well received our previous model has been in the market and now we have taken this duo concept to a whole new level,” says Anders Martensson, Sales and Marketing Director at Rapid Group.
Raptor Series from Rapid Granulator is now available with a true “open-hearted” integrated grinder.
“Rapid patent pending “open-hearted” design is truly unique in the market. To get direct access to the entire cutting chamber of the shredder and grinder in less than a minute is an absolute state of the art solution,” adds Mr. Martensson.
Rapid's focus on modular built units, enables Rapid to integrate the DUO solution in multiple configurations. The Raptor series have both pneumatic and hydraulic pusher systems. There is also the third pusher system available for bulky items to increase capacity and provide opportunity to feed really large products like IBC directly into the hopper of the shredder. Rapid offers 36 base configurations of the Raptor in order to handle various applications. The modular systems feature two widths 31.5” and 53” (800 mm and 1,350 mm). There are also three different cutting systems: Quad Cut, Claw, and Power Wedge. With all of these options, there is a configuration for any application.
Rapid manufactures all grinders and shredders in their own production center in Bredaryd Sweden. “We see huge advantages of having the entire production under one roof. The quality control and the level of customisation we are able to provide is unique in the industry. We also reduce our carbon footprint by minimising the transports related to every single part in the machine as our vendor base is closely located,” says Mr. Martensson.
- This article also appears in the International Plastics News for Asia - December issue. To read the full issue, click here.
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