Researchers to facilitate the recycling of PVC by removing lead

By 25 mayo, 2020Chemistry, H2020

Researchers from the Molecular Science Institute (ICMol) of the University of Valencia are participating in REMADYL, a Horizon 2020 project that consists of developing materials to capture and eliminate PVC lead stabilisers at the end of their useful life and the later use of said lead in the manufacturing of batteries. The work is part of the European line of transition towards a green economy and society through ecological innovation.

InvestigadoresREMADYL aims to recycle the so-called ‘old PVC’, which is PVC additivised with dangerous inherited substances (LS) such as low molecular weight phthalate plasticisers and stabilisers based on heavy metals, mainly lead. This old PVC constitutes the majority of the current post-consumer waste of hard PVC – window frames or pipes – and soft PVC – floors or cables, among other items. The presence of LS is a persistent barrier to the recycling of PVC, as there are currently no economically viable solutions for its disposal.

To address this significant challenge, REMADYL will develop an innovative one-step continuous process based on extractive extrusion technology in combination with new solvents and fusion filtration, which has the potential to rejuvenate old PVC into high purity PVC at a competitive cost in the market.

A research team from the Molecular Science Institute of the University of Valencia, coordinated by Antonio L. Ribera, has successfully optimised a semi-pilot synthesis to obtain a precursor material based on so-called layered double hydroxides (LDH) on a larger scale. Now, researchers are focused on obtaining the final material for lead capture.

Through this process, the project will facilitate the recycling of PVC for window profiles and waterproofing sheets. The extracted phthalate plasticisers will be safely disposed of, with energy recovery, and the lead will be reused in batteries.

With this, this project, carried out by a consortium of 15 European partners – including 9 companies –, will introduce PVC into the Circular Economy and meet the resource efficiency objectives for Europe, since the recovered PVC will reduce incineration and landfills.

The REMADYL project is funded by the Horizon 2020 G.A. 821136 Research and Innovation Framework Programme, designed to boost the transition to a green economy and society through green innovation, and is managed by the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (EASME).

The team of the University of Valencia is made up of researchers Carlos Martí-Gastaldo, Carmen Fernández Conde and the IP of the project, Antonio L. Ribera Hermano.