In May 2019, the interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research project Circular Plastics Network for Training (C-PlaNeT) was approved within the framework of the doctoral program of European universities, the funding amount of which reaches almost 4 million euros. A total of 15 doctoral students from eight European universities specializing in the fields of chemical research, development of production technologies, sociology and economics will jointly consider the concept of a closed-loop economy as applied to the plastics sector. The Fraunhofer Institute for Packaging Processing Technology (IVV) participates in this cooperation together with the Department of the Study of Aromatic Substances and Odor Emissions from the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen and Nuremberg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS). The project will be launched in early 2020.

“My main concern is the analytic presentation of the recycling process and impurity removal technologies,” says Professor Andrea Buttner, Deputy Director and Head of Analytical Devices
at the Fraunhofer Institute for Processing and Packaging Technology. In addition, Professor Buttner leads the Department of the Study of Aromatic Substances and Odor Emissions at the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceuticals at the Friedrich Alexander University.

In the same place, Miriam Strangle, as part of his doctoral dissertation, explores the topic of odor characteristics and undesirable impurities in recyclable materials. “Our work goes far beyond the development of new ways to eliminate odorous compounds. Odor is often an indicator that indicates that the material contains by-products, ”says Miriam Strangl, who is actively involved in developing the concept for the C-PlaNeT project.

“In the process of recycling, we must not only think about the extraction of secondary raw materials, but also more comprehensively consider the problem of removing impurities. Our task is to determine previously unknown substances. Only in this way can we purposefully change recycling processes to remove impurities. “I personally advocate developing this topic in close cooperation with representatives of various disciplines and preparing young professionals for the necessary interdisciplinary cooperation in the group,” continues Professor Buttner. – Everything in our world is closely interconnected. Only knowledge of the structure of substances
can guarantee high quality materials for recycling. Based on the knowledge gained, it is necessary to optimize the various stages of the technological process not only to increase its efficiency, but also to completely remove various impurities. ”

One of the promising solutions in this direction is the use of solvents. Thanks to the development of the CreaSolv® process based on the use of solvent, the Fraunhofer Institute for Processing and Packaging Technology has already managed to completely separate plastics from household waste polluting them.

In the future, of great interest is the development of special built-in line sensors for detecting impurities. Currently, chemical diagnostics in recycling is still underdeveloped. Therefore, together with the IIS of the Fraunhofer Society, all scientific centers involved in cooperation intend to closely deal with the detection of odorous substances: the level of competence allows them to jointly solve these complex problems.