Dan Åkesson och Martin Bohlén

2016-09-16 08:00

New recycling of plastic

What happens to plastic if nanomaterial is added and the resultant product is ground down to enable fresh production, the whole process being repeated five or six times? This is what Senior Lecturer Martin Bohlén and Docent Dan Åkesson will be looking into in their research project, ‘Mechanical Recycling of Polymer Nanocomposites’.

So-called nanocomposites are a relatively new research area. They are produced by strengthening plastics with a nanofiller such as carbon nanotubes. Mixing a nanofiller into a plastic enables the customisation of materials with entirely new properties. For example, materials with better mechanical properties can be produced. This has been studied intensively in the research world and it is likely that these materials will eventually find their way onto the market. Days of Knowledge
To fund the ’Mechanical Recycling of Polymer Nanocomposites’ project, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad is providing SEK 547,302. This money will be awarded on 19 October at Days of Knowledge, a ceremony at which the University of Borås honours research and education. The event is arranged by the University of Borås, City of Borås, Sparbanksstiftelsen sjuhärad and Swedbank Sjuhärad.

’We are going to study the mechanical recycling of nanocomposites. Mechanical recycling entails industrial waste’s being collected, ground, and melted down so that new products can be made. The idea is that we produce the nanocomposites once and measure the mechanical and thermal properties. Next, we grind down the material and then remake it. We do this five or six times to see how the properties gradually change’, states Dan Åkesson.

Research in various fields

Dan and Martin have different research backgrounds and come from different research groups. However, both are interested in cross-disciplinary research and thus jointly applied to Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad for research funds. 

‘We complement each other well. I received my doctorate in modelling technology and, consequently, will be primarily working with this. However, I’ve also worked quite a bit with polymers, Dan’s research field. So, it’s not entirely new to me either’, reveals Martin Bohlén.

‘We both think this is an interesting research area and get on well together’, comments Dan Åkesson.

Combined study

The research project will be a combined theoretical and experimental study using computer modelling and experimentation in the laboratories of the University of Borås.

‘We will primarily be looking at industrial waste. We’ve noticed that waste is increasing not only from industry, but also from consumers’, says Dan Åkesson.

‘Currently, there are few products with nanomaterial on the market. Nonetheless, we feel that, bearing in mind all the research, there will gradually be an increase. This study puts us at the cutting edge’, concludes Martin Bohlén.