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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/D029945/1
Title: Qualifying the Sustainable Use of Polymeric Materials in Electrical and Electronic Products
Principal Investigator: Hamerton, Professor I
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Div of Chemical Sciences
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 August 2005 Ends: 30 April 2008 Value (£): 222,206
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Materials Characterisation
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The electrical and electronic industry in common with the automotive industry, faces significant materials management challenges that extend from the selection and processing of virgin materials to their management when products reach end-of-life. This is particularly acute in the electrical and electronic products industry where product life spans range from one year or less to 15 years or more and where the amount of waste product produced each year in the UK exceeds one million tonnes. These high volumes of waste, often containing hazardous substances, illustrate the magnitude of the problem that industry and society face. Over the last decade, a number of new European directives have arisen to protect the environment from the life cycle impacts associated with the manufacture, use and disposal of consumer products. These are now seriously affecting the many companies that supply electrical and electronic products. The recent government report by the Electronics Innovation and Growth Team highlighted the need to encourage more electronics-focussed research in the UK and to seek improved ways to respond to environmental laws and related sustainability issues. The legislation has caused manufacturers to consider alternative materials, manufacturing processes, designs and end-of-life management strategies. However, the decision making process is made very difficult by the complexity of the products themselves.Virtually all of the engineering polymers used in today's electrical and electronic products can be recycled. The challenge is making the process of recovery and recycling economical and reliable by providing qualified materials that manufacturers know they can use with confidence.The proposed project will make use of very recent developments in using light, across the whole of the visible spectrum and into the infrared and the ultraviolet regions, to measure the chemical and physical characteristics of plastic materials used in electrical and electronic products like computers, televisions and mobile phones.The main aim of the project is to evaluate the use of these new light probing methods to rapidly qualify plastic materials used in the enclosures and casings of electrical and electronic products both at the manufacturing stage and when the products reach the end of their useful life. This will assist materials selection prior to manufacture and end-of-life management. This work will also evaluate the ability of these methods to quantify those physical, chemical and aesthetic properties of key importance to the recovery and recycling of materials having the highest possible technical and economic value for both in-sector recycling and for the supply of qualified materials into secondary materials markets. Further, the project will develop a prototype optical probe with integrated software tools to undertake such evaluations and this will be demonstrated in practical working environments.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk