Plasticising in a gentle way

As the demand for recycled plastics grows, so does the size of the machines. This applies to the processing of polyolefins as well as to PET recycling. The new models of Erema’s Vacurema Basic technology have a throughput of up to 6 t/h and consume 10% less energy than comparable systems without the new EcoGentle plasticising technology.

In the PET recycling segment, Erema proved its expertise as a partner for large-scale recycling projects several times last year. At the end of 2021, the recycling machine manufacturer delivered a large-scale Vacurema Basic 2628 T plant for the first time with a production capacity of up to 40,000 t/a of rPET granulate. Since then, throughput capacity has again been significantly increased. “Up to 6 t/h are possible with our new plasticising technology,” Michael Heitzinger, Managing Director at Erema, pointed out. The recycling machine manufacturer calls this plasticising unit EcoGentle because it significantly reduces energy consumption. Measurements on a Vacurema Basic 2628 T system resulted in up to 12% total energy saving (specific total energy consumption, kWh/kg) and 30-47% energy saving for the extruder drive on Vacurema Basic plants from size 2021 upwards. In addition, EcoGentle handles the melt in a gentle way. At the same time as achieving unprecedented high throughputs. “All in all, this is a package that enables our customers to increase productivity and noticeably reduce costs,” stated Heitzinger.

The decisive factor is the further precise interaction of the intake section and extruder screw as a result of the combination of the EcoGentle plasticising unit with the proven counter current technology. The optimisation of compression ratios is claimed to ensure better feeding performance, and the selective exploitation of elongation flows, together with a number of other rheological optimisations, results in a particularly homogeneous melt and a wider process window. This makes it easier to compensate for fluctuations in the input material without negatively impacting process stability. Due to the lower temperature, the melt is processed more gently overall. The result is even lower acetaldehyde (AA) values, which translate into producing higher quality rPET pellets, said Erema.

This development is based on the know-how bundled in the Erema Group. Essential core components for EcoGentle are manufactured in Austria by 3S, one of Erema GmbH’s sister companies.

Currently, Erema’s large-scale plant focus is on PET recycling. But it will not stop there – the recycling machine manufacturer is already working intensively on upscaling the technologies for polyolefin recycling to achieve high throughput volumes. “The push for a circular economy demands it, and we will deliver with our usual quality and reliability,” confirmed Heitzinger.

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