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The research group e-PLASCOM is participating in the project RevalPET'UP, whose aim is to develop innovative, high-added value materials with a long useful life based on recycled opaque PET.

Opaque PET is a plastic material that is increasingly found in containers but opaque PET waste is difficult to recover. It disrupts the classification and recycling chain of transparent PET and most of it is incinerated. Consequently, it represents an environmental challenge. The aim of RevalPET’UP is to recycle 100% of opaque PET. To achieve this, the base material needs to be stabilised and its quality improved after recycling. This conclusion was reached in the REVALPET project, which was carried out prior to RevalPET’UP. RevalPET’UP emerged to response to these challenges through the reactive extrusion process.

Recycled opaque PET improved by reactive extrusion will be transformed in two ways. First, it can be mixed with other materials such as recycled polypropylene or special additives (fireproof, conductive load), which could give it functional properties for specialized, sustainable applications with high added value. The resulting material could be used in applications that require good mechanical features. Second, work will be done on its use in the form of foams with a controlled microcellular structure for the production of parts that meet the principles of ecological design (light structures), with thermal insulation properties that enable them to be used in construction and other applications in the area of decoration.

In this context, the ePLASCOM-UPC group will work on the development of reactive extrusion techniques for recycled opaque PET using chain extenders and/or branchers at laboratory scale and pilot plant scale, and on the characterisation of the material’s mechanical and fracture properties. It will also be responsible for the production and mechanical characterisation of microfoam parts produced using the MUCELL® process.

RevalPET’UP will develop these materials up to production at pilot scale. It will create prototypes (preindustrial scale) for measuring the insulation characteristics and will study the commercial potential of the materials that are developed.

The project has been jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain-France-Andorra programme (POCTEFA 2014-2020). It has a budget of 180,000 euros. It started in January 2020 and will end in May 2022. Participants include the Institute of Analytical Sciences and Physico-Chemistry for Environment and Materials (IPREM), the Polymat group (UPV/EHU), the Institute of Nanoscience of Aragon (INA), the National Engineering School of Tarbes (ENIT) and NOBATEK/INEF4.

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