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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G059489/1
Title: Thermal Management in Polymer Processing
Principal Investigator: Harkin-Jones, Professor E
Other Investigators:
Li, Professor K Price, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
All-Island Polymer & Plastic Network Brett Martin Ltd Tangram Technology Ltd
Department: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 31 March 2010 Ends: 30 March 2013 Value (£): 424,868
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design of Process systems Energy Efficiency
Heat & Mass Transfer
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Feb 2009 Thermal Management Prioritisation Meeting Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The U.K is one of the top 5 plastics processing countries in Europe with a turnover of 19 billion accounting for 2.1% of GDP (equivalent to the metals industry). The industry is made up of 7,400 companies falling mainly into the SME category.The sector is growing year on year as more traditional materials are being replaced by plastics, for example, in the construction industry a 6 million tonnes usage in 2004 is projected to grow to 8 million tonnes in 2010 while in the automotive industry the typical car now contains 10% plastic by weight. For a typical UK plastics company the electricity bill is usually between 1 and 3% of turnover, which amounts to 380 million per annum for the UK (this is only electricity costs - 80% of polymer processors in the UK use both electricity and gas). A reduction in electricity usage of 10% would result in savings of 38 million per annum and a significant reduction in environmental burden. There are many areas in a typical polymer processing plant where energy use could be reduced. A prime example is in the extrusion area where machines running at non-optimised conditions and without proper control systems in place can account for 15-20% of overall process energy losses. The cooling of polymer parts is also a prime area for consideration with chiller systems running at non-optimised temperatures and flow rates. It is evident from the figures for the polymer industry that there is a need to improve energy efficiency within the industry but for any energy management system to be effective measures must be taken to optimise the whole plant and not just isolated pieces of equipment. For this reason, this proposal will apply a whole systems approach to attaining energy efficiency within the polymer processing industry by developing a software based, Energy Management Tool (EMT). This approach will be complemented by the development of process monitoring and control technologies to optimise energy use in extrusion.
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk