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ISOPREP Project Enters Next Stage

The collaborative ISOPREP Project, of which TWI is a partner, has moved into a new stage of work. The project is working to develop an innovative alternative to disposing of polypropylene products into landfill by creating a method to recycle this material.

An oil-derived polymer, Polypropylene is the world’s second-most widely used commodity polymer. It can be found in products including food packaging, carpets, electronics, automobile interiors, pipes, home furnishings and even banknotes. Despite the widespread use, only 1% of polypropylene products are currently recycled, with the rest going to landfill and polluting the environment.

The ISOPREP Project aims to use solvents to recycle these complex products, with a particular focus on carpet feedstock, back into virgin quality polypropylene. This is to be achieved by exploiting a novel patented ionic solvent to selectively solubilise the polypropylene so that it can be reused elsewhere.

The ISOPREP method offers potentially several key advantages, both economically and environmentally. The method, which aims at is cost-effectiveness in comparison to fresh manufacture, will reduce the reliance of polypropylene production on fossil sources, thereby reducing emissions and energy use.

With the recycled products producing an identical performance to freshly manufactured resin, the recycling process is non-polluting due to the negligible loss of solvent per cycle. The solvent is non-toxic and non-flammable at the process temperature range, and able to remove dyes, colours and impurities.

The first period of the project is now complete, following 1.5 years of progress. Extensive laboratory-scale studies have been successfully completed to show the viability of the process and we are now ready to begin sub-pilot scale tests.

These tests will be undertaken at a specially designed plant for which TWI and the consortium created design blueprints

In addition to this work, the project has already been promoted in its early stages at conferences and trade fairs.

The next stage of the project will be to conduct this pilot scale testing in order to build up to an engineering package and process design for a scaled-up operational facility using the ISOPREP technology.

Aside from TWI, the project partners in this European-funded collaborative endeavour include:

  • London South Bank University (via the TWI-based Advanced Resins and Coatings Technologies Innovation Centre)
  • Floteks
  • Fraunhofer
  • The Institute for Process and Particle Engineering (IPPE)
  • Sabanci University of Turkey
  • Rotajet Systems Limited
  • Bioniqs Ltd
  • Axion Recycling Ltd
  • Centre for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CeNTI)
  • Technische Universitäaet Graz
Avatar Geraldine Durand Section Manager - Functional Coatings & Resins

After a  Master of Science in Physical Chemistry specialised in Surfaces and  Colloidal Systems at  the Technological University of Compiègne (UTC), France, Géraldine  completed her  PhD in Polymer Chemistry (Synthesis, characterisation and self-assembly of triblock amphiphilic block copolymers: for a light controlled delivery system) at University of Kent at Canterbury.She then joined the Organo-modified copolymers Development Group of DOW CORNING as a R&D chemist in wales where she was developing novel silicone based anti-fouling coatings for Marine application. Since 2010, Géraldine works in TWI Ltd in the Specialist materials joining section as senior project leader. Her main research interests include durable low energy coatings (easy clean, anti-fouling, anti-icing, anti-grafity…) and novel insulating materials.