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 A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>