Automated Polymer Recycling û Promoting new Markets

Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science Without Borders)
PhD Project Template:
PI name & contact details:
Dr. Alan Ryan, University of Limerick.
Design and Manufacturing Technology
Has project been agreed with head (or
nominee) of proposed registration school?
Research Centre / group affiliation:
Materials & Automation Research Group,
Research group / centre website:
PI website / link to CV:
Brief summary of PI research / research group / centre activity (2 or 3 lines max):
Current research involves end of life treatment of waste electronic and electrical equipment, to
ensure beneficial balance between environmental and economic recycling and material use.
Previous research has focused on the development of environmentally sustainable Printed circuit
Boards and the development of sustainable district heating systems for manufacturing sites.
Title & brief description of PhD project (suitable for publication on web):
“Automated Polymer Recycling – Promoting new Markets”
According to the American Society of Plastics Industry there are approximately 50 groups of plastics,
with plastic production using 8% of the world’s annual oil production, 4% as a feedstock and 4%
during manufacture.
While the use of plastic in the development of products is growing due to its extreme versatility,
durability, thermal and electrical insulation properties, preliminary research has indicated that there
is a reluctance to recycle plastics with the same vigour and enthusiasm as other materials, e.g.
ferrous metals, due to the need to ensure that the waste streams are clean, i.e. that the plastic
types are not cross contaminated.
It is thus envisaged that larger amounts of plastics would be recycled if an automated segregation
method for all waste plastics was developed.
The current process of recycling plastic is predominantly a manual sort into the relevant plastic
family trees, once sorted items are then granulated. This process is inherently slow and labour
intensive. The objective of this project is to develop an overall automated granulation and sorting
process capable of dealing with a wide spectrum of plastic waste materials and to then identify
potential uses and markets for these waste streams.
Unique selling points of PhD project in UL:
The Design and Manufacturing Technology Dept. of the University of Limerick has significant links
and access to the Materials and Surface Science Institute. These links ensure access to specialised
equipment such as SEM, TEM, X-ray diffraction among others and also provides access to a team of
qualified technicians.
Well established links to the EPA and national recyclers through previous research projects.
Proven capability in prototype development resulting in international patents and spin out
Name & contact details for project queries, if different from PI named above:
Please indicate the graduates of which disciplines that should apply:
Mechanical / Manufacturing / Materials/Automation engineering, Materials Science, chemistry.
Please indicate whether students can apply for:
Sandwich programme only
Full PhD programme only
Either of the above
Ciência sem Fronteiras / Science Without Borders Priority Area:
Please indicate the specific programme priority area under which the proposed PhD project fits- choose only
one (tick box):
Engineering and other technological areas
Pure and Natural Sciences (e.g. mathematics, physics, chemistry)
Health and Biomedical Sciences
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
Oil, Gas and Coal
Renewable Energy
Nanotechnology and New Materials
Technology of prevention and remediation of natural disasters
Biodiversity and Bioprospection
Marine Sciences
Creative Industry
New technologies in constructive engineering