Cost-Effective Sorting of Non‐Recyclable Plastics to Convert to Fuels

One of the biggest barriers to plastics being recycled is the contamination of non-recyclable plastics with recyclable plastics. Separating the non-recyclables from the recyclables at the recycling facility is very labor and time-intensive. Separation is often expensive, so contaminated batches of plastic go to the landfill.

ISTC researcher Sriraam Chandrasekaran teamed up with collaborators at UHV Technologies, Idaho National Laboratory, and the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County to solve that problem. They plan to develop and implement a low-cost advanced plastics sorting technology. If successful, the technology will be able to separate non-recyclable plastics from recyclable plastics as well as sort the types of non-recyclable plastics for conversion to value-added products.

Team member roles:

  • UHV Technologies will create high-tech sensors to detect specific plastic polymer chemical signatures.
  • Idaho National Laboratory will use artificial intelligence algorithms to create a novel classification system to sort these non-recyclable plastics and complete chemical composition analysis and screening techniques.
  • ISTC will use its previously developed catalytic pyrolysis process to determine if these non-recyclable plastics can be used to produce valuable products such as diesel fuel, aviation fuel, gasoline, naphtha, and waxes.
  • The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County will integrate the proposed technology into the existing recycling industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy funded this three-year $2.5 million project.

Read more on the ISTC blog.

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