DALLAS — Australia took center stage in Dallas at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Antec 2001, winning status as a new section and hosting a technical session on recycling in the Land Down Under.
The mood was upbeat at the business lunch May 7, as SPE leaders gave the charter to the new Australia/New Zealand Section. Accepting the charter were two Australians — Barry Huguenin, a consultant with Delynda Pty. Ltd. in Wantirna, Australia, and Edward Kosior, research and technology manager at Visy Plastics Pty. Ltd., a recycling operation in Reservoir, Australia.
Huguenin unfurled an Australian flag during his speech.
The following afternoon, eight papers were presented about Australian plastics recycling efforts. Visy and Swineburne University in Melbourne collaborated on seven of the eight papers.
Australia is known for its pioneering work in PET recycling, including post-consumer-content bottles for Coca-Cola Co.
During Antec, one technical paper described how polyester polyols, generated from recycled PET bottles, can be used to make polyurethane.
First, PET is broken down via glycolysis, which depolymerizes the plastic into monomers and higher oligomers.
"The intermediates thus obtained can then be used as building blocks to synthesize other polymers with higher economic value, such as PU foams and unsaturated polyesters," according to the paper.
Researchers studied ways to match branched PU polyol from recycled PET. After the glycolysis step, the team used adipic acid to form a reaction with the PET and a small amount of a branching agent to end up with the saturated polyester polyol. Twelve hours later, the reaction was over.
Visy's Kosior presented the paper for main author Peter Rossi of Swineburne University. Kosior said the team successfully produced PU foam. They experienced some problems, such as instability of the foam. He said more research is needed "to refine the system so it actually works in a stable way."
Topics of other Australian recycling papers included: the development of a thermal separation system to remove vinyl from post-consumer PET flake; making nonwoven textiles from melt-spun recycled PET; the recycling of multilayer and barrier-coated PET bottles; recycling multilayer films; and the effect of blending on the viscosity reduction of recycled high density polyethylene milk bottles.