The potential inherent in the processing of EPS waste from construction materials and packaging has not yet been fully exploited in Austria. All the more interesting were the experiments with the lightweight material carried out in the in-house Test Center of IFE.
A significant share of EPS waste from the construction and packaging industry is used for energy generation in Austria and is thus discarded from the value creation cycle. The members of the EPSolutely research project have set the goal of increasing the recycling rate of EPS waste and to drastically reduce the demand for primary raw materials for new EPS products.
However, to achieve high recycling rates and sufficient purity values, all relevant links in the value creation chain must be optimally harmonized with each other. The project consortium evaluates various approaches and decides which concepts should be implemented on a trial basis.
Sorting experiments in the IFE Test Center
IFE can draw on empirical values from over 20 years of waste processing experience and has access to a well-equipped in-house Test Center. The R&D team faced the challenge of generating a sorted EPS fraction. To achieve this goal, the EPS material had to be separated from the heavy contents (rocks, adhesive, reinforcement fabric, concrete, bricks) in the material. Clean EPS is optimally suited for recycling, and the crushed brick/concrete can also be reused in the construction industry.
Details of the test procedure
Project partner Lindner-Recyclingtech GmbH provided the EPS waste in pre-shredded form. Depending on how dismantling is handled (manually or using machines), the degree of contamination with residues of construction materials is higher or lower.
As shredded EPS material is very lightweight, it can only be separated from other construction materials based on density. Consequently, the samples were fed to the IFE-SORT in three passes, using a hopper. A video recording shows how the shredded material passed through the IFE-SORT.
Promising research results
Also in connection with its new task, the IFE-SORT demonstrates its high performance capability:
Sample material A
Due to the combination of vibration and air technology plus the numerous configuration options, the IFE-SORT provides precise separation of light and heavy materials. It removed almost all impurities from the EPS fraction.
Sample materials B and C
The composition of the feed material differed significantly from the first sample run. In the second and third sample, the reinforcement meshes which are generally difficult to separate, were present in numerous forms. The configuration options of the IFE-SORT, however, allowed a flexible reaction to changing conditions. Again, it was possible to separate a significant fraction of the EPS from the contaminants.