Class Project in Canada
I am a professor of Chemical Engineering in Canada, and I teach a course on Polymer Engineering. Next semester I will be assigning a term project for the students to create a recycled polymer (plastic) product. That is how I found this page!
I do have at tiny budget and I plan to build some of the equipment used here. I would love to collaborate with anyone in a similar situation. My hope is to publicize this project and to access more funding to expand. I will provide more info as I can.
Hey I’m an electrical engineer technician, in Ottawa. If there’s anything i could help with let me know
there is unfortunately nothing really ready – yet – for the class room. to keep things simple and safe, you can :
– try getting plastic from the bazaar, there’s plenty of already shredded plastic, otherwise find a way to cut house hold plastics with a mixer or scissors. there is always ebay or amazon to get ‘pellets’ for cheap
– as soon you have it, the next stage is to form it, there are some cheap options, for instance a small oven, a mold done with wood pressed with nuts and bolts, takes some afternoons to get something done, youtube is your best friends, checkout this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUR6_bQLU-E
– there are also ongoing efforts for smaller sized machines, here (a little messy, scroll down a little)
possibly by the end of the year, there might be something more ready for the class room. at the moment most commercial offers start at 2500 $.
Hi! Thanks! I’m at a university with a fully equipped lab, machine shop, electronics shop, and students are trained in safety so that is not my main concern right now.
Thank you! I’ve found a colleague who is interested in using it also, and a piece of equipment we may re-purpose. Its got a hopper, grinder and motor and I think was used for some agricultural projects.
alright, that’s a game changer. in this case your students should have no problem building at least a small injection machine. all it takes is a barrel, a plunger and some supports to put a lever in place. the electronics is around 50 euro for heatbands, pid controller and a relay from aliexpress (4 weeks waiting), or 100 $ in the US. takes a day to build but in your case i am sure everyone will enjoy it. you don’t even need to make it big, here is a small version, good enough to make a course. around 200 $ in total.
what’s left is a mold, if your machine shop has a CNC which can mill Aluminium then you’re good to go 🙂 i am sure the students will come up with something funny :-), otherwise, there are molds in the bazar, check ‘precious plastic USA’, the guy has it on stock.
btw. shredding house hold is quite an adventure, it involves washing and a pretty heavy machine, i’d skip this part at any cost.
It is great to see the potential for university activity in this area. There has been a lot of great work done here in exploring small scale processing of recyclables, but there are certain topics that can’t be addressed without more specialized knowledge and equipment. One is understanding the fumes generated at these processing temperatures and the other is the mechanical properties of the resulting materials. If there is any chance of your project class touching on those topics, it would be of great help to the community.
Thank you again for telling us about your project.
@aghanem, Hi, not sure you saw it already but there is a team in Eindhoven working on a new version of this project : https://davehakkens.nl/community/forums/forum/precious-plastic/version-4-development/ . I am not an expert in any of those issues but @s2019 is right, we actually need help if it comes to fumes and pretty much any of the processes involved. My personal favorite investigating PET recycling possibilities since it’s a common issue found anywhere.
If you have some indication what we could help you with specifically, I am sure somebody here can assist you. Developing a course for the class room is pretty much in the top of our list. For now we’re struggling to fit possible equipment to tight budgets, public and private school vise..
Thank you for those useful suggestions! The students are final-year Chemical Engineering students, this is an elective course. I usually teach a variety of topics on polymers – everything from the chemical reactions, to plastic properties and methods of shaping plastic. I’ve decided this year I will get them to do project on inventing a new product from a plastic waste product.
That is how I found this community!
As an engineering professor I also have a research lab, and the capacity to apply for funding, and carry out projects in my lab (in addition to my teaching). I received a small teaching grant for the project I mentioned above. I can foresee the possibility of applying for funding to address some of the issues you’ve brought up.
I will investigate possible funding agencies, and if you or anyone else reading this is in a position to help me leverage funds, please reach out. I do know there are special grants for Canada -EU projects, industry projects, teaching projects, etc. Having a partner is often required.
Thanks I will check out the link you posted on version 4. If you read the note I sent s2019, it describes the particular project my students will be working on. This course will take place Sept-Dec, but I have a PhD student starting development in June for a few weeks.
Funny how you suggest I avoid the shredding – that’s my main interest right now!! Mostly b/c I want the students to make the link between plastic waste, and re-use. Buying recycled plastic just doesn’t have the same impact.
Our tech has found a piece of equipment we may be able to re-purpose into a shredder- he’s off this week but I can post a picture.
I will investigate sources of funding for Canada – EU collaboration and maybe we can raise money to investigate the issues you mention.
@aghanem Good luck in pursuing grant money. You may be aware of the announcement from China last year that they are severely limiting import of recyclables. Here in the US, especially on the west coast this has shaken up the recycling programs. Instead of just sending it to China in empty shipping containers, we need to figure out what to do with it other than the expedient send it to the landfill.
On the plus side, this should create an environment where research study money is available. Topics such as affects of co-mingling of plastic types, how clean is clean enough, how do properties degrade with number of recycles, extended sun exposure, etc. All should be of interest and potential sources of funding. Perhaps even generate some graduate level projects.
One advantage of this supply change is that the products your students come up with don’t have to be overly material efficient. They can compensate for the relatively poor mechanical properties with just more cross section…The world is eager to get rid of this stuff.
@s2019, would love to know which material else could solve packaging or provide similar properties (still low energy forming, requires the least resources, in comparison to wood,…) as plastic. to me it’s still a great material, regardless it’s only meant for a few hundred of years, the very few hundred years we’re destroying our own habitat. if only a fraction of the conspiracy theories are true, there is no more ‘us’ in 500 years..
Plastic is good stuff for a lot of applications. The issue is management of its life cycle so it does not end up loose in the environment.
you nailed it, the problem isn’t really plastic, the problem is rather us, as very often. i can’t remember who said it but this quote comes to mind : ‘the world isn’t ‘doomed’ (i have to use soft language here) because of some ****, it’s because of us, allowing it 🙂
I still would love to hear what the op has on mind, specifically. Personally I think budget isn’t really the biggest problem. The educational value can be still high though, even with low-tech below 500$ per course. Personally, I prefer my students always to start with the worst (like learning to drive on the worst car) and then let them progress with better tools, materials… However, plastics is a good entry into many professions, metal work, automation, chemistry,… since it’s really simple to get things done ..
As the o.p., I can certainly tell you what i have in mind. I described it somewhat in my message to s2019. My students will be tasked to create a new product out of recycled plastic. They can use any plastic or production method they want, but in researching the topic I came up with the shredder here. I thought that having a shredder would be a good start for their projects. Its really up to them to do the rest, I’m developing a rubric currently.
As I mentioned I do university research, so I’ve already build a small scale extruder/imjection molder for PCL/PGA blends for biomedical purposes. We have colleagues who have a small research project to recycle plastics directly to 3D printer without filament.
Anyway please feel free to ask any questions. I’m not sure if you understand.
@aghanem, now i understand, yes, thanks!
Well, then you should have enough input and tools as well experienced people around. About the shredder part, I’d rather suggest to take something more safe and powerful than the one from PP, looking up ebay doesn’t show much but a sufficient one is around 3-5K. Not sure it’s of interest, we just finished some basics of a mobile Precious Plastic 3-in-one machine, see here. The idea is to have it mobile and powerful and working for extra school activities. Such machine takes around full 6 days to build alone, the first time. Material bill is around 1-2K. When using or building the shredder of PP be aware that more motor power (3Kw+) is good to deal with PET bottles, industrial waste otherwise it jams , no fun at all …
‘recycle plastics directly to 3D printer without filament’ : holy moly, I’d love to see that. We have someone in the community who made finally the first known break through in this direction, it’s a hot topic for many 🙂
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