Project description

General topic

The aim is to propose a state-of-the-art circular value chain for various polymer types, taking into account the material’s properties, recent circularity innovations (e.g. chemical recycling, new sorting technologies, reversible bonding, biobased plastics…) and currently existing waste management schemes. The idea is that your new material value chain has a higher circularity than the currently existing systems in various EU countries. First of all, evidently, you inventorize and study novel circularity technologies related to the polymer of your assignment. You analyze what is currently the material flow of the plastic in question, and suggest how this should change to accommodate novel technologies. This could involve, non-exhaustively, changes in collection methods, changes in sorting, different product designs or production changes, modifications to the polymer itself, etc.

Team-specific topics
  • Polystyrene food packaging
  • PUR insulation
  • Rubber tires
  • Windmill blades
  • Polylactic acid food packaging
  • (composite) textiles (polyamide/polyester/polyurethanes)

Each team has 5 members, preferably from different countries. From the below, it is clear that in the preparation phase as well as the consolidation phase different specific tasks can be assigned to individual team members, and we recommend to do so.
Each team is supervised by one lecturer.

A first part of the assignment should be executed before the physical mobility period, i.e. during the virtual preparation. You will work in teams, whereby evidently you could convert the various deliverables below into individual tasks/responsibilities. During the in-person mobility, a team’s presentation is expected, on which you will get feedback from your project supervisor(s).
After the in-person mobility, we advise you to focus on the next four deliverables, in preparation of your final paper and presentation.

A team paper as well as an intermediate and final presentation are expected from each team.

Intermediate presentation:
  • During the in-person mobility
  • Focusing on your preparations, predominantly on the four first bullet
    points below
  • 10 minutes per team + 5 Q&A
  • Containing all aspects below
  • Length of a technical/scientific paper, i.e. approx. 5000 words
  • Deadline April 14, 2023
Final presentation:
  • During virtual collaboration period after the in-person mobility
  • Focusing on all aspects below
  • Virtually organized
  • 15 minutes per team + 15 minutes Q&A
  • Tentative date May 14, 2023
Focus points for the project (in a logical order):
  • Study the properties of the polymer, also experimentally/analytically
  • Check the market for this polymer: applications, quantities (in EU), compositions/structures and trends
  • Check the current waste management technologies for this polymer (and in which waste fractions are they present/collected)
  • Make a material flow analysis of the (most important) current polymer value chain
  • Identify possible bottlenecks/weaknesses in the current value chain
  • Inventorize the state-of-the-art in terms of recycling strategies/technologies (what’s new?)
  • Assess how new technologies can be implemented for the existing waste streams, or what needs to change to overcome the bottlenecks/weaknesses of the current value chain
  • Identify at least one (or multiple) important market trend that could influence the circularity of the polymer you are studying
  • What is the limit regarding circularity; in terms of number of cycles as well in terms of yield or energy expenses?
  • Pre-test: 20%
  • Team paper: 50%
    • Corrected with 25% spread max. based on peer evaluations
  • Presentation (team): 20%
  • Defence (individual): 10%