EREMA has unveiled a new bottle-to-bottle technology during the PETnology conference in Paris, held 26-27 Nov.
The Austrian recycling machinery company unveiled introduced the newly-developed Vacunite technology, which combines EREMA's Vacurema bottle-to-bottle process with newly-patented vacuum-supported nitrogen solid state polycondensation (SSP) from Polymetrix. The technology involves carrying out all thermal process steps in nitrogen atmosphere, largely eliminating flake and pellet discoloration and removing additives which could lead to undesired reactions in the melt.
Another benefit of Vacunite, according to the Linz-based company, is that the vacuum support cleans the nitrogen. This means that the nitrogen can be returned to the previous processing stage and therefore nitrogen consumption is reduced.
Remaining dust particles are removed from the pellets before filling to avoid preform contamination.
"Using vacuum support and nitrogen atmosphere creates rPET recyclates which far exceed all existing food contact requirements, even those of the major beverage brands," said Christoph Wöss, EREMA business development manager for the bottle sector.
Other features of the technology, which EREMA believes make Vacunite stand out are the “comparatively compact” build, low energy consumption and the considerably lower maintenance compared to vacuum SSP systems.
Depending on machine type, 50 to 60 square metres of floor space is sufficient for the SSP part. The height and substructure also have less impact on the dimensions of the plant building compared to other SSPs, according to EREMA. The energy consumption of Vacunite for the entire production process from the flake to the final pellets amounts to a mere 0.35 kWh per kg.
"With Vacunite we offer our bottle-to-bottle customers a new technology in addition to the existing portfolio which sets new standards at all levels from technical performance to rPET quality," said Manfred Hackl, CEO EREMA Group.
EREMA expects the new process to play a key role in the increasing demand for recycled plastics by big brands.
"There is a great amount of interest. A first customer in Europe has already decided to invest in a Vacunite recycling plant prior to the official product launch," Hackl added.