„EPS-Loop“ - Oververview of the InnoNet-Project 3578

1. The Project
Expandable polystyrene(EPS + XPS) – better known as product brand Styropor® - is mainly used in the construction industry (75 %) because of its good insulating properties and in packaging (16%) because of the protection it provides against mechanical or electrical shocks. Insulation sheets, Poroton® tiles, cooling transportation boxes and packaging of electronic articles are examples of applications. 220,000 tons EPS per year are used in Germany alone! 
The aim of the project is to develop a recycling process with the capability to produce expandable polystyrene from collected EPS waste.

An additional goal is a functional logistic concept for a low cost EPS waste collection system. 
With above the three major problems of EPS-Recycling are addressed: 
1. The very low void weight of EPS-waste with a density of approximately 6.5 kg/m³ creates an extremely high transportation cost and special Jumbo-trucks with high loading volumes of 110m³ can only carry weights of 600 to 700 kg PS.
2. The present utilization of EPS offers only a very low degree of value recovery:  
o The major part of the EPS-waste is incinerated. 
o Most of the collected EPS waste is grinded and used in cement flooring and Poroton® (insulation) tiles. Only approximately 1000 tons are truly recycled (blended) into packaging parts. 
o In Germany only small volumes of EPS are processed to PS-granulates for injection moulding. 
3. The EPS for the construction industry contains flame retardants. Based on an expected yield loss of 7% when adjusting insulation sheets approximately 7,000 tons EPS waste per year are created in Germany alone. This waste has to be collected separately and treated in special processes, because the brominated additives can react to toxic degradation products - like dioxane and furane (Seveso poisons) – when undergoing thermal processes such as extrusion or compression. 
Recycling to expandable PS is not practised in Germany because of the poor cleaning effect of the existing technologies as well as the lack of an economical process for the production of re-expandable PS. Today clean grinded polystyrene or granulates of good quality can only be achieved via extremely clean and specific collection routes.

eps-loop-01.jpg
Input material of compressed fish boxes and separated impurities

The high transport cost can be reduced significantly by an extreme volume reduction (up to factor 50) through dissolving of the EPS-waste in a liquid. Due to the fact that this liquid is not hazardous according to E.U. criteria and is not classified in the meaning of transport regulations, the collected EPS-solution can be handled cost-efficiently in standard containers or in iso-tanks when being transported to the recycling plant.  The recycling plant works on the concept of the CreaSolv® Processes, based on the „selective extraction“: Selective dissolving of the target polymer – cleaning of the solution and separation of additives and impurities – precipitation of the target polymer. In the first step of the recycling process impurities like metals, wood, other polymers, organic waste and dust are separated through filtration from the delivered solution. The addition of a precipitation agent initiates the precipitation of the pure polystyrene in particle form. The correct choice of process parameters and process additives allows the production of expandable polystyrene in virgin quality. Through such a process a much higher product value can be achieved in comparison to grinded or extruded EPS-waste for injection moulding. Even EPS waste with high content of dirt and impurities can be processed into recycled PS of high quality.

eps-loop-02-e.jpg
Concept of the „Selective Extraction“ of EPS-waste to recycled PS (CreaSolv®-Process)

The introduction of this technology offers advantages for the collection at significantly reduced transportation cost and a higher value of the recycled polymer. Logistic companies as well as recycling firms and polymer consuming industries can benefit from these advantages. 
Additionally the volume reduction reduces the number of necessary transports and the amount of CO2-release and its impact on the environment. This reduces the transport traffic on German High-ways and will hopefully slow down the increasing trend of traffic jams and accidents. These transports do not create a danger to the environment because the liquids used are not classified.

2. The Cooperation
The cooperation is based on the use of non-classified solvent formulations of the CreaCycle GmbH in a polymer recycling process based on the “Selective Extraction”, developed by the Fraunhofer-Institute IVV and branded as CreaSolv®-Process. The Fraunhofer-Institute has invented the concept of the process and will adapt it to the polymer system of EPS-waste. Besides comprehensive Know-How and experience in the field of organic solvents, solvent formulations, classification and labelling of dangerous goods, CreaCycle has studied and developed the volume reduction of EPS-waste in CreaSolv®-PS solvent formulations. 

eps-loop-03.jpg
Dissolving reactor, self-cleaning filter unit and precipitation reactor for the recycling of polymers in the explosion protected laboratory of Fraunhofer IVV.

The above core concept is complemented by the competency of the company „Neue Herbold”, which is active in the field of EPS and polymer grinding for 8 years. Before the dissolving step in the processing the static charging of the EPS has to be controlled. The aim is to handle large volumes with low weight without creating a high fine particles content, which can result in high dusting. 
A competent team for the design of pilot and production plants, the calculation of the economic scale and an improved planning security has been assembled.  The experience of the EPC company in the engineering of wet chemical plants of polymers including explosion protection, paired with the experience of  „e&e process technology“ in the fields of solid-liquid-extraction, the use of organic solvents and explosion protection.  
MAKSC and FIW will evaluate the quality of the recycled polystyrene as well as the expandable polystyrene grades and the produced parts. The experience of these two partners allows a competent and reliable analysis on the quality and the market value of the produced product.
Profound knowledge and experience in logistics and the acquisition of input material are brought to the team by DKR and Interseroh. Both companies are responsible for the collection and processing of the majority of all EPS-waste streams in Germany and in the position to access relevant EPS input streams.
The companies Joma, Isobouw and Synbra will evaluate and optimise the expansion properties of the recycled polystyrene and define the market values of the products. 
An interdisciplinary cooperation of all relevant partners is necessary for commercialisation and market introduction. This cooperation will allow a scale-up into a commercial process without delay at the end of the InnoNet-Project. This offers a high probability of success and an early „return on investment“ to all companies involved. 
The cooperation partners are widely spread over Germany with one member from another EU member state (3x Bavaria, 4x Nordrhein-Westfalia, 2x Sachsen-Anhalt, 1x Thüringen, 1x Baden-Württemberg, 1 x The Netherlands).

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Locations of the co-operation partners of the EPS-Loop


 
3. The Project Goals
The main goal of the project is the immediate transposition of the project results into an industrial pilot plant. When running the pilot plant more process data can be collected and the market can be developed. Furthermore additional experience in the field of EPS waste collection can be gathered in order to approach an increasing coverage of Germany and other European countries. For a complete coverage approximately 3 recycling plants are needed in Germany and 10-15 will be necessary for total Europe. The number is dependent on the minimum capacity for an economical EPS recycling plant and from the appropiate logistic system for a specific country.

Knowing the limitations of the current EPS waste collection (in Germany as well as in other European countries), the achievable purity and the danger of contamination with EPS from the construction industry (containing flame retardants) leads to the conclusion that during the compression, compacting and re-extrusion also dioxane and furane contaminated PS-granulates are produced, without the awareness and recognition of the processor or the regulator.

The EPS collection in solution, followed by the recycling process will eliminate such a potential risk.

The transition into a pilot and a following production plant will be addressed by the project team. In order to achieve a regional coverage it is necesssary that step by step all companies are incorporated, which create EPS-waste, or transport or process such wast streams. In such a way this innovative technology is available to a large number of small to medium size companies. In other European countries it is important to work with local partners, in order to address country specific conditions in relation to the collection, transport, use and regulations. 
It is intended to work with the respective associations, industry leaders and ministries for safety at work & environmental protection in order to demonstrate the effectivity and profitability of this innovative technology in the pilot and production plants .

The cooperation partners intend to enrich and intensify their core businesses with additional orders, increase their market shares and strengthen their position in the market and can demonstrate their engagement for an improved plastic recycling in public.

4. The Project Overview

Title: EPS-Loop: Recycling of EPS-waste to re-expandable polystyrene
Content: Development and optimization of a recycling process for EPS-waste (e.g. Styropor®, XPS, etc.) from the packaging and construction industry into re-expandable recycled PS in virgion quality.- Development of a concept for a cost efficient transport of EPS-waste (volume reduction)
Period: 1.8.03 – 31.10.04; intentionally short, in order to allow a fast commercialization
Project budget: € 1.078.954, including € 863.163 in research institutes and € 215.791 in participating industry partners.
Support budget:  604.214 €


 

 
 Project partner  Projekt leader  Main responsibility in the project

Fraunhofer Institut Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV
Giggenhauser Str. 35
85354 Freising
www.ivv.fraunhofer.de 

Udo Knauf 
(08161) 491-400
(08161) 491-444 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Coordinator
Development of the recycling process in laboratory scale Adaptation of the recycling process to aggregates in technical relevant scale

Forschungsinstitut für Wärmeschutz e.V. München FIW
Lochhamer Schlag 
482166 Gräfelfing
www.fiw-muenchen.de 

Wolfgang Albrecht
(089) 858 00-39
(089) 858 00-40 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Quality evaluation of foamed products made from re-expanded polystyrene according to DIN standards

Creacycle GmbH
Orkener Str. 33
41515 Grevenbroich
www.creacycle.de 

Michael Mrozyk
(02181) 2392-21
(02181) 2392-33 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Development of optimized solvent formulations for dissolving EPS and for the precipitation of PS out of a cleaned solutionIndustry: solvent formulations

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kunststoffrecycling mbH DKR
Frankfurter Str. 720-726
51145 Köln
www.dkr.de 

Guido Gorski
(02203) 9317-737
(02203) 9317-700 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Support in the development of the collection logistic, providing with typical EPS-waste streams
Industry: Plastic-recycling, logistic

e&e Verfahrenstechnik GmbH
Düsternstr. 55
48231 Warendorf
www.eunde-verfahrenstechnik.de 

Axel Remke
(02581) 63601-14
(02581) 63601-20 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Design of aggregates for the adaption of the process into pilot and production scale, as well as the calculation of the respective investment and production cost
Industry: Plant construction, engineering.

EPC Engineering und Projektmanagement Consulting GmbH
Breitscheidstr. 152
07407 Rudolstadt
www.epc-online.de 

Jens Henkel
(03672) 3023-30
(03672) 3023-77 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Design of aggregates for the adaption of the process into pilot and production scale, as well as the calculation of the respective investment and production and license cost
Industry: Engineering, Consulting

ISD Interseroh GmbH
Stollwerckstr. 9a
51149 Köln
www.interseroh.de 

Christian Jessen
(02203) 9147-304
(02203) 9147-340 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support in the development of the collection logistic, providing with typical EPS-waste streams  Industry: Plastic-recycling, logistic

Isobouw Dämmstoffwerk GmbH
Wulfenerstr. 
106386 Micheln-Trebbichau
www.isobow.de

Dr. Siegfried Kern
(034973) 26-0
(034973) 26-134 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Testing and evaluation of the re-expandability of polystyrene. 
Industry: EPS-parts for construction and packaging

Joma Dämmstoffwerk GmbH
Jomaplatz
87752 Holzgünz
www.joma.de 

Roland Mang
(08393) 78-32
(08393) 78-35
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Testing and evaluation of the re-expandability of polystyrene.
Industry: EPS-parts for construction
 

Magdeburger Kunststoff Service Center GmbH - MAKSC
Steinfeldstr. 53
9179 Barleben
www.maksc.de 

Harald Toerne
(039203) 94014
(039203) 94019 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Evaluation of the quality of recycled polystyrene in relation to mechanical and thermal properties, definition of market success. 
Industry: Plastic recycling, evaluation of qualities of recycled plastics

Neue Herbold Maschinen- und Anlagenbau GmbH
Wiesenstr. 
4474889 Sinsheim
www.neue-herbold.com 

Peter Abraham
(07261) 9248-0
(07261) 9248-99 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Grinding of test series as preparation for the dissolving tests. Assistance in the development of a decentral dissolving module. 
Industry: EPS-grinding machines

Synbra Technology bv
Zeedijk 
254871 NM Etten-Leur
Niederlande
www.synbra.com

Jan Noordegraaf
+31 (0168) 373 373
+31 (0168) 373 363 (Fax)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Testing and evaluation of the re-expandability of polystyrene, providing with typical EPS-waste streams
Industry: EPS-parts for construction and packaging
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