Specim: Achieving 98 % Polymer Purity with Hyperspectral Imaging

by | Apr 17, 2024

Hyperspectral imaging is revolutionizing the plastic recycling industry by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of plastic sorting. Prodecologia, a company focused on sustainable technologies, has developed a sorting machine based on Specim’s hyperspectral imaging technology that achieves 98 % polymer purity. This innovation has significant environmental and economic implications.

Polymer waste is a global ecological problem that needs to be addressed. Processing polymer waste into reusable materials reduces environmental impact and requires only half the energy compared to primary polymer production. Prodecologia recognized the need for more efficient polymer recycling technology and set out to develop solutions.

Enhancing Polymer Sorting with NIR Hyperspectral Imaging

Traditional electrostatic technology did not provide the necessary flexibility to work with different types of polymer materials. Similarly, achieving high polymer purity scores above 95 % was challenging. This is where hyperspectral imaging technology came into play.

Hyperspectral imaging combines imaging and spectroscopy to classify and sort different polymer types accurately. By operating in the near-infrared (NIR) spectral range (900-1700 nm), hyperspectral imaging can identify and sort various polymeric materials with a single scan, achieving purity ratings above 98 % and minimizing waste byproducts.

Prodecologia collaborated with Specim, a leading hyperspectral imaging technology supplier, to develop their NIR separator. The system consists of the Specim FX17 hyperspectral camera for imaging, a microprocessor unit for identification, and pneumatic systems for ejection of specific polymer types. Prodecologia used SpecimONE, a spectral imaging platform, to analyze and classify the hyperspectral data gathered by the Specim camera and to apply the classification model to the in-line system.

Fast go-to-market

Implementing the NIR separator with Specim’s hardware and software solutions took only six months, a significant improvement compared to other systems stuck in development for years. The successful integration of hyperspectral imaging technology into Prodecologia’s sorting machine allows for efficient sorting of multicomponent polymer mixtures by type.

MWIR Hyperspectral Imaging: A Breakthrough in Black Plastic Sorting

Looking ahead, Prodecologia aims to tackle the challenge of sorting black polymers, which are currently challenging to sort using optical systems. According to Prodecologia, the Specim FX50 MWIR hyperspectral camera is well-suited for sorting black polymers due to its 2.7–5.3 μm spectral range, which aligns with the specific requirements for sorting black plastics.

In conclusion, hyperspectral imaging technology, with its ability to accurately identify and sort different polymer types, is a valuable tool in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of plastic sorting. It offers environmental benefits by increasing polymer purity and reducing waste while also providing economic advantages in the recycling industry.

For more information about the Specim FX17 click here, and for more information about the Specim FX50 click here

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