Pre-industrial production of Rubber Wood Plastic Composite
Location: Wrexham, United Kingdom
Partners involved: ECODEK (manufacturing), TECNALIA (Microwave Technology for wood SRM drying) and ACCIONA (Quality Control and Installation)
General description: Rubber Wood-plastic composites were produced by using tyre rubber, waste plastic and wood, both virgin or waste.
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Ecodek manufactures wood plastic composite materials using extrusion technology, in which a polymer is melted and mixed with wood to form profiles that can then be used to fabricate different final products, such as decking, cladding, fencing and other products.
Standard products incorporate recycled HDPE. However, through the FISSAC project, other, less commonly recycled materials have been thoroughly investigated. These investigations included the partial replacement of main materials with recycled rubber crumb.
The production of Rubber Wood plastic composites needed the collaboration of different industries to collect all the materials needed. An example of the symbiosis, that FISSAC wants to achieve, was the collaboration with Befesa to identify a compatibilizer to optimise the addition of rubber to WPC, i.e. Serox.
Before mixing all components, the wood flour needs to be pre-dried.
As part of the FISSAC project, an alternative drying method was investigated, i.e. microwave technology.
Once the moisture content of the wood is reduced, it is weighed together with the rest of the components at the correct proportions, within the hopper system where they are blended.
The mix is then conveyed to the feed hopper which feeds the material into the extruder.
The mix melts and mixes into the extruder, which is then formed into the final shape with the help of a die.
The extruded profile is then cooled with water and cut at the required length.