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Closed loop recycling with Gneuss technology

The Gneuss Recycling Technology enables the processing of high-volume, industrial PET waste from fibre, nonwoven or film production.

11th April 2019

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Bad Oeynhausen


Gneuss GPU with MRS extruder, Rotary filtration system RSFgenius and Jump reactor. © Gneuss

At this year’s ITMA, which takes place in June in Barcelona, Gneuss, a family-owned supplier of innovative solutions for the plastics processing industry, will present its innovative PET recycling process with Gneuss’ reactor technology.

The Gneuss Recycling Technology enables the processing of high-volume, industrial PET waste from fibre, nonwoven or film production, and from contaminated post-consumer bottle flakes. The recycling technology is based on the Gneuss Processing Unit (GPU) with MRS extruder, rotary filtration system and online viscometer, combined with Gneuss’ Jump reactor. This is a processing step to accurately boost the IV of the PET polymer in the melt phase.

First processing stage

The first important processing stage, melt decontamination, takes place in the GPU. With its devolatilisation capacity, the MRS extruder can process PET waste with high residual moisture levels and/or contamination (such as spin finish oils) without the need for any pre-treatment of the waste.  In the Multi Rotation Drum, eight satellite screws produce a large melt surface and surface exchange rate, so that an optimum devolatilisation and decontamination result can be achieved with conventional water ring vacuum pumps. All volatile foreign substances, such as water and / or spinning oils, are removed.

Polyreactor Jump. © Gneuss

Polyreactor Jump. © Gneuss

Solid impurities are subsequently filtered out by the melt filter. Rotary Filtration Systems operate continuously, process constant and automatically, and guarantee a particle-free melt thanks to finest filter elements with filter fineness down to below 20 µm.

Second important phase

During the second important stage of the process, the purified and homogenised polymer is delivered into the Jump reactor. Here, too, a large surface area of the polymer melt and optimum residence time of the polymer under vacuum are decisive factors. The polymer passes over several slow turning elements, which create a polymer film, the surface of which is constantly renewed. The reactor vessel is kept under vacuum and by regulating the residence time and speed of rotation of the agitating devices, the polycondensation reaction can be altered to achieve higher viscosities.

The IV value of the PET melt can be specifically influenced over a wide range so that an increase of 0.02 to a maximum of 0.3 dl/g is possible. The design of the JUMP prevents the entry of oxygen, so discolouration (yellowing) of the polymer is minimised.

Rotary filtration system RSFgenius. © Gneuss

Rotary filtration system RSFgenius. © Gneuss

After passing through a stilling section in the reactor, the polymer melt is pumped either directly into the production process or into a pelletising system.

Efficient alternative

With this recycling technology, combining an MRS extruder with the JUMP reactor, industrial waste can be turned into a high-quality and directly usable melt in a very short time. Thanks to the enormous line flexibility, different PET qualities can be produced, the company explains.

“The Jump process is an extremely efficient alternative to a Solid-State Polymerisation (SSP) as there is no energy needed to cool the polymer down and then reheat it. Further, the reaction time in the melt phase is considerably faster than in the solid phase, which also contributes to the better economics of the Jump system. Last but not least, the Jump offers major advantages over an SSP in terms of space requirements and even maintenance.”

This recycling concept, which received an award for innovative performance last year, has convinced one of China's largest fibre producers. The recycling concept for processing fibre waste into pellets will be implemented by the Chinese manufacturer before the end of this year.

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