Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New sensors that see rubbish and gas

12.04.2005


The SINTEF Group, in co-operation with the re-cycling company Tomra now goes beyond cash deposits for bottles and cans to recycling plastic, glass and metal. Newly developed, patented technology makes it possible to sort different types of plastic, different colours of glass as well as metal – easily, effectively and inexpensively. A new, inexpensive gas-detector that contributes to a better indoor climate, is another area of use.

Although many things can be recycled or reused, it is a major challenge to sort this rubbish. It is expensive and complicated, because it’s not easy to see which plastic type makes up the bottle, cup or can. If the plastic is to be reused, different types cannot be mixed. It requires “clean merchandise”!

But a little, gold-covered plastic chip – as easy to produce as a CD – can manage this work. The surface is holographic, reflecting light in a carefully programmed way. With the help of new software that interprets the spectrum of light reflected from or passing through different materials, each material’s “fingerprint” is read very accurately – whether solid material or gas.



“We are now able to produce this chip and associated electronics for well under 1,000 NOK (120 EURO),”explains Tomra research manager Andreas Nordbryhn.

Together with the research group SINTEF (Trondheim),Tomra has achieved the goal that the research and development project (Sensit) started more than two years ago. The results are now commercialised, beginning in two important areas: Rubbish sorting and gas detection. But the technology is suitable in all areas where spectrometry is used. Tomra is developing an entirely new recycling station business area. OptoSense takes advantage of the same technology with sensors that can determine different gasses. Tomra is the patent holder of the new technology that has been developed by SINTEF, but OptoSense and SINTEF have the right to make use of the technology within areas defined in the agreement, such as gas detection, as well as medical and food products. The fourth company that was involved in the project at the start, Titech Visionsort, was acquired by Tomra during the project.

“The project has been remarkably successful,” Nordbryhn states. “We have long wanted to expand our activities to include rubbish handling. The deposit market is limited – for example, only about 15% of all bottles consumed annually around the world have a deposit. And 85% of the bottles and most of the other packaging are only rubbish. All countries have large problems with the handling an enormous mountain of rubbish, not the least of which is packaging that modern society produces. There is close to an unlimited market for solutions to handle the challenge in a rational way. Increasingly, different countries’ authorities are adding fees for those who cannot document that their packaging is recyclable.”

“To be able to develop this new business area you need a sensor that in an easy, inexpensive, robust and reliable way sorts different packaging material– without the user needing to think about what he or she put into the machine. We started more than five years ago, and now we have made it,” states the Tomra researcher.

The first prototype is already mounted at the British supermarket chain Tesco. It is a complete recycling station that sorts and shreds packaging the public inserts. The new, more advanced stations, that are now in production, will be able to separate between seven different types of plastic that will fall into their own containers after being shredded. Glass will be sorted after colour, then broken and disturbed in containers. The same for metal – iron/steel will be sorted from aluminium.

“Because the machine sorts and shreds the packaging material, the need for storage area and transport are reduced. This gives a large environmental gain as well as a better economy. The solution we can now present for the market is the cheapest and best in the world,” Nordbryhn points out.

Furthermore, the company has access to technology that makes it possible to produce an inexpensive, precise gas detector, for, among other things, CO2.

This sensor can, for example, be used to control a ventilation system at the workplace. It sees when CO2 levels in the air are too high – which quickly happens when many people are in the same room – or needlessly low. The sensor can signal the ventilation system to raise or reduce air flow so that is continuously is at the desired level. This ensures a good indoor climate, and at the same time prevents over ventilation. This also means saving energy for heating, cooling and circulating air.

This also prevents the system from using power when it is not necessary, which saves energy. “This is environmental technology,” underlines Trond Melen of OptoSense.

Thomas Evensen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.tomra.no/default.asp?V_DOC_ID=1239
http://www.forskningsradet.no

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>