A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) will see Aston’s Polymer Processing and Performance Research Unit (PPP-RU), a specialist group within the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry (CEAC) Department of Aston complete research into polymer recycling.
Industry partner Gelpack Excelsior Ltd specialise in the production of high performance thin gauge films, producing over 50 tonnes of product per day. The plastic film and sacks are used in a variety of industries such as waste management, refuse, clinical waste, general industrial packaging, as well as food processing liners; for which Hereford based Gelpack is the UK’s biggest supplier.
Every day of production creates over 5 tonnes of waste product which can be reused in many industry areas, although this excludes food production and those that demand strict hygiene processes. Manipulating the chemistry and performance of waste polymer products; for the particular purpose of recycling and upgrading the performance of second-life quality products for use in specialist applications is the key focus of this partnership.
Paul Northover, Manufacturing Director of Gelpack hopes that the KTP project will “embed a new product development process, which, building on existing manufacturing and material knowledge, will have the impact of delivering an enhanced competitive advantage for the business”.
Gelpack will be drawing on Aston’s PPP-RU’s extensive experience and knowledge of providing innovative solutions for lifetime performance, the development of new processes and novel materials, with a long term view of increasing the profitability and quality of what is currently a second-grade product. By streamlining the current production process the company will also significantly reduce its waste output, leading to a reduction in related emissions and costs.
Academic supervisor of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership and lead scientist of the Polymer Processing and Performance Research Unit (PPP-RU), Professor Sahar Al-Malaika has over 35 years’ research experience in polymers and industrial partnerships schemes.
“This project offers the PPP-RU and CEAC an opportunity to transfer theoretical knowledge into real practical processes to the benefit of both the company, who is competing in a European market place, and the university in terms of case-studies for teaching and research output and in delivering value to regional enterprises.” Professor Al-Malaika.
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