Taking a sensor based sorting machine into operation

Nowadays the waste everybody causes is collected and mechanically processed in treatment plants with state of the art technology. Such machines can be screens, magnetic and sensor based sorting technologies as well as ballistic separators or windsifters. But these high-end machines are not used in the field of landfill mining yet. One of the main tasks of work package 1 (WP1) is the implementation of these innovative mechanical processing technologies within landfill mining. This way we create a cutting-edge process for the recovery of recyclable material in an enhanced landfill mining (ELFM) process.

Part of these high end technologies are sensor based sorting machines, representing one of the core topics in WP1. We study this type of machines with regard to the effect of defilements on sensor based sorting steps within the scope of enhanced landfill mining. Additionally, the effect of wet mechanical treatment on the material excavated will be studied.

In order to start this research, a sensor based sorting machine had to be acquired by the Chair of Waste Processing Technology and Waste Management (AVAW) of the Montanuniversitaet Leoben. This aggregate was purchased from Binder+Co in early 2017. The machine contains VIS- (colour recognition), NIR- (near infrared) and induction- (metal detection) technology and was delivered in June 2017. In the following figure a schematic drawing of the sensor based sorting machine is shown.

Figure 1: schematic drawing of the sensor based sorting machine.

With this machine, excavated landfill material can be sorted into various product fractions that can be sold afterwards. During trials, samples are filled into the bunker, then they are transported with the vibration conveyor to the chute, where they slide through the detection ranges of the built in sensors. The registered information is processed, enabling the classification of particles. Then the discharge unit sorts out specific valuable particles by using compressed air. Figure 2 shows the sensor based sorting machine set up at the Montanuniversitaet Leoben.

Figure 2: Sensor based sorting machine at the AVAW, Montanuniversitaet Leoben

Figure 2: Sensor based sorting machine at the AVAW, Montanuniversitaet Leoben

To find out whether the machine matches the imposed requirements, comprehensive tests were run throughout June and July 2017. During the last weeks the sorting quality of various mixed input samples that consisted of different kinds of plastics (e.g. PP, PE, PET, PVC, PS, TPU, PBT, etc.), wood samples, metals and composites were tested. After few adaptations and with the help of Binder+Co all sorting tasks were performed and the requirements were met. The machine is now ready to run the first trials for the NEW-MINE project.

I look forward to the first results of these trials and I will keep you posted!

About the author:

Bastian Küppers (BK)

Bastian is our ESR 3. He is German, has a master in waste management engineering and works at the Montanuniversitat in Leoben. His research focuses on the utilization of sensor based sorting equipment in order to separate valuable particles (e.g. metals or plastics) from landfill material during mechanical processing. He studies the influence of defilements on sensor based sorting and on wet-mechanical treatment in order to reduce defilements, creating high quality recyclable material. If he’s not in the university’s lab’s, you can most probably find him trail running, swimming or rock-climbing. You can contact him via e-mail at bastian.kueppers@unileoben.ac.at.