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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S018573/1
Title: High efficiency value-added bulk recycling of polymers by solid state shear milling
Principal Investigator: Kelly, Professor AL
Other Investigators:
Whiteside, Dr BR Benkreira, Professor H Caton-Rose, Dr P
Coates, Professor PD
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Engineering and Informatics
Organisation: University of Bradford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 January 2019 Ends: 31 December 2021 Value (£): 804,042
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design & Testing Technology Design of Process systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Oct 2018 UK-China Low Carbon Manufacturing Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced annually and this is expected to double over the next 20 years. Plastics have become vital materials in many aspects of everyday life but the generation of plastics solid waste (PSW) is becoming an increasing problem, for example 8 million tonnes of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans each year, having a huge impact on marine ecosystems. Some relatively clean and easy to separate types of waste plastics can be recycled economically, such as drinks bottles, and levels of recycling are increasing but many polymeric materials are much more difficult to recycle, for example composites containing different materials of polymers which cannot be re-melted such as rubber tyres and printed circuit boards. As such there is an urgent need worldwide to develop new technically and economically feasible methods to recycle these types of materials. This aligns with the concept of a circular economy which seeks to keep products and materials in use and design out waste and pollution.

Our joint UK-China team aims to develop an industrial scale continuous process to successfully recycle and re-manufacture currently difficult to recycle bulk waste streams, with high efficiency. A continuous milling process will be developed to break down solid polymeric waste into fine powders with controlled properties, which can then be reprocessed into value-added products. We will perform experiments to understand the mechanisms of the milling process and how these can be opitimised for particular waste streams. We will characterise the materials produced and examine different ways of turning these powders into useful, value-added products.

We combine unique skills and strengths of our Chinese and UK groups to address key issues facing both of our countries - effectively reducing the significant amount of plastic waste with efficient routes to re-use. This proposal builds on the highly successful research collaborations over the last decade between the world-class research laboratories of the Polymer IRC at Bradford and Sichuan University State Key Laboratory for Polymer Materials Engineering (SKLPME), an important and international award-winning part of our RCUK Bradford Science Bridges China platform.
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Organisation Website: http://www.brad.ac.uk