Plastics Waste and Recycling
The Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) at Queen’s University Belfast is at the forefront of developments in addressing the challenges of plastics waste and in particular in helping industry to find solutions.
The PPRC specialises in polymer processing and much of its work is commercial in nature and at mid TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels).
The PPRC has extensive R&D laboratory facilities centred around a suite of pilot plant production lines encompassing the major plastics manufacturing processes of:
- Extrusion - more than 10 single and twin screws extruders that can be configured for compounding (pellet production), extrusion of blown film, cast film and sheet, extrusion of profiles (including tubes and pipes), and up to 5 layer co-extrusion.
- Injection Moulding - including gas assist and moulding of high temperature polymers such as PEEK.
- Rotational Moulding - single and multilayer moulding using twin axis and robotic arm systems.
- Thermoforming - vacuum, pressure and plug-assist systems for multilayer sheet materials and thermoplastic composites.
- Blow Moulding - injection stretch blow moulding of bottles and technical parts.
- Compression moulding - moulding of all polymer types and thermoplastic composites.
- Additive manufacturing - stereolithography and fused filament fabrication systems, including extrusion and printing of filaments of special formulations.
The PPRC employs 8 full time technical staff offering the following services:
- Process optimisation - enhancement or adjustment of current processing operations;
- New polymer development - including advanced polymer blends and composite formulations, multilayer structures, foams, and recycled polymers and blends;
- New process development;
- Material characterisation and testing;
- Pre-production trials - testing of new materials, processes and products prior to full scale industrial production
- Process troubleshooting;
- New product development - including product/process design and simulation;
- Training - bespoke training programmes for industry and academic researchers in the principles of polymer science and engineering, coupled to hands-on practical experience of polymer processes and test methods.
The PPRC is currently engaged in a wide variety of commercial research projects involving waste and recycled plastics. It is also involved in two major national research programmes dedicated to solving the challenges of Plastics Waste and the Circular Economy. These are:
- Rotocycle (Innovate UK - £500k) - Novel use of hard to recycle plastics in rotomoulded applications
- ACCEPT Transitions (EPSRC - £1m) - Advancing Creative Circular Economies for Plastics via Technological-Social Transitions.