NanoOnSpect project flyer
NanoOnSpect is an SME-targeted collaborative project funded by the European Commission. The project involves 12 partners from 6 European countries, and has a total budget of around 4.7 million €. It will run from 1st April 2011 to 31st March 2015.
The project aims to accelerate the commercialization of innovative polymer nanocomposites by creating a comprehensive processing solution to quality problems.
As shown in the diagram below, new compounding technology consisting of a twin screw extruder and a Nexxus dispersion device will be combined with new online characterization techniques using an Artificial Neural Network (ANN).
Material properties, such as thermal conductivity, dialectical constant, dispersion quality, viscosity, temperature and pressure will be controlled during processing. The Artificial Neural Network and an Expert System module will analyse sensor signals, predict the complex quality of the nanocomposite and calculate new input parameters for the compounding line.
The new characterization device, the onBOX, will have a modular construction. The compounder can therefore define the properties that need to be measured, and the onBOX can be tailor-made for the specific product.
The processing techniques and technologies in NanoOnSpect will be designed to operate under demanding industrial conditions.
Implementation of characterization unit onBOX to extrusion line
NanoOnSpect’s deliverable 5.1 shows the implementation of the characterisation unit onBOX to an extrusion line. Information is provided concerning the mechanical and electrical requirements of the compounding lines. Mechanical adapters and electronic interfaces for the Intelligent Module were also established.
NanoOnSpect’s deliverable 5.5 on the quality control of polymeric nanocomposites in the NanoOnSpect process summarizes all developed sensoring technologies and their implementation in the characterisation tool onBOX. Their use and the gathering of the sensor signals is described in the reports of the industrial case studies (see below)
Industrial case study 1
In a first industrial case study NanoOnSpect showed the capability to monitor the processing of CNT-filled polycarbonate compounds and successfully forecast the electrical conductivity of the material produced with the electrical resistivity measured online in the melt. Deliverable D5.2 shows the detailed results, focusing on the industrial feasibility of the onBOX and the sensors in terms of their reliability under harsh conditions, integration into the existing extrusion line and ease of use by non-skilled personnel.
Industrial case study 2
In the second industrial case study NanoOnSpect showed the capability to monitor the processing of clay-filled polypropylene compounds at industrial throughputs up to 160 kg/h at the production line of Addiplast SA. Additionally the use of the Expert System in the Intelligent Module was validated by the use of processing rules for the online control of the process for a desired material property (viscosity). The deliverable D5.3 shows the processes used and the results, focusing on the industrial feasibility of the onBOX and the Expert System as well as the sensors in terms of their reliability under harsh conditions and their integration into the existing extrusion line.
Industrial case study 3
NanoOnSpect’s deliverable D5.4 shows the procedure of the evaluation study “Testing and Evaluation”. The aim of this study is to evaluate all the in- and out-puts of the technology (waste, energy, material) as well as the knowledge obtained.
An OnBOX characterization device was designed and constructed by the project partner Gneuß. The device is currently being used for online tests at AIMPLAS and Fraunhofer ICT, with integrated capillary viscosimetry by Gneuss, thermal conductivity sensor technology from Hukseflux, a real melt temperature sensor and miniaturized pressure sensor from FOS and an electrical conductivity sensor from Fraunhofer ICT. Three additional sensors are under development for the detection of state of agglomeration and viscosity/density using microwave, Raman, UV-vis and ultrasonic sensors.
Download OnBOX Flyer (1,6 MB)
The following video stream shows the principle function of the Nexxus Channel used in the project to improve the pre-wetting of nanoparticles by the matrix polymer. The Nexxus device receives the melt from a plasticizing extruder and a filler from a dosing unit, and mixes and wets the components instantaneously without damaging the filler. The device is compact, consumes little energy and produces reinforced thermoplastic items with exceptional mechanical properties. Max. residence time is 5-6 s. Typical fillers are glass, basalt, carbon, natural, calcium carbonate, glass spheres, etc. The Nexxus device can be mounted in bypass or in cascade on new or existing extruders. The equipment will be adapted to polymer nanocomposite processing during the NanoOnSpect project, and used separately or in parallel with twin screw extruders in order to obtain the desired dispersion quality.
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