Automatic pre-sorting of waste in the bifa technical centre
Many standard materials used in high-tech and everyday products are limited, not only in the size of their reserves but also their availability. Development of automatic detection of individual materials in mixtures has developed enormously in recent years. Despite this, there is still a large need for development so that economically profitable secondary materials of high quality can be extracted. For example, processes are required that enable such materials to be specifically recovered from commercial waste (fractions).
A weakpoint in existing processes is the so-called "presorting", which is used to specifically remove impurities from the waste mixture. As trivial as this task sounds, it is in fact very complex. At present, even with the best available technology, reasonably satisfactory results can only be achieved by manual presorting.
Multifunctional detection and sorting line
Since June 2007, a "multifunctional detection and sorting line" has been installed in bifa's technical centre. The system is operated jointly under the longstanding cooperation agreement between bifa and Augsburg University of Applied Sciences and is used not only for educational purposes but also for R&D projects. With its help, all kinds of different materials can be identified and separated into their material fractions. Such systems are now used in modern industrial commercial waste treatment plants. But the presorting problem is still unsolved. Due to their fragmented size, weight and heterogeneity, most of the impurities can be detected, but not sorted out and certainly not separated. A promising solution could be automation of the presorting, which is coupled with the detection technology, processes the material information and sorts the specific impurities. The key to a properly functioning recycling process therefore lies in the whole process chain.
Project of the Swabian Chamber of Commerce (IHK Schwaben)
The objective of the innovation fund project of the Swabian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK Schwaben) was to link possible sorting systems with the detection systems of the sorting line. Other focal areas of the project included adjusting to the material to be sorted out, coupling sorting systems with the conveying technology and further developing different sorting options. At the same time, a reproducible "model waste" was defined and designed for the initial tests and was produced using rapid prototyping. The feasibility of important parts of the overall process was demonstrated by numerous test series. The preliminary project was used to examine and demonstrate the fundamental feasibility of solutions, to point out the difficulties involved in their implementation and identified necessary development tasks. Based on this, a funding application was drawn up. The intention of the funded project now requested is to develop the actual technology and transfer it into practical use.
In addition the multifunctional detection and sorting line is available to students of the University for Applied Sciences Augsburg for tests.