A team of four undergraduate chemistry and physics students at Imperial College London are trying to develop low-cost instruments that will manually identify and sort plastic materials based on differing types of resin.
Students Martin Holicky, Han Chan, David Dai and James Kung, are working towards re-thinking how near-infrared spectrometers are designed and constructed to bring down the cost as much as possible. Holicky, co-founder and leader of the team told Plastics Recycling Update, “We came up with some ideas how to construct such spectrometers with the smallest cost possible while still preserving the required accuracy and measurement speed. We believe that this will allow more widespread use of such a technology on a smaller community scale – at the moment we are not making just one more huge machine for big recycling lines.”
Under the name ‘Team Matoha,’ the group of students recently took first place in Imperial’s Make-a-Difference competition and won nearly $9,300 in prize money, which they intend to use towards developing a second prototype of their equipment. As part of the competition, the team also received an eight-week lab placement and a modest budget to develop their prototype.
Aiming for mid-2018, Team Matoha hopes to have a significantly improved second prototype ready. Holicky comments, “What we are developing is something completely different – a small and inexpensive scanner, fast enough for manual sorting and cheap enough for much more widespread use than currently existing machines.”