Rapra Technology: Project aims to optimise twin screw extrusion

The UK’s Rapra Technology is leading a pan-European, 21-strong consortium that intends to strengthen the industry’s knowledge base and understanding of twin screw processing. The three-year, €3.35m research project has attracted €2.18m funding from the European Commission under its Collective Research programme designed to benefit SMEs. The project, termed PEPT-Flow, is based on a flow analysis technique known as positron emission particle tracking that will study polymer flow and mixing behaviour within twin screw processes. Much of the research work will be carried out at Birmingham University, which has the relevant particle tracking equipment.
Work has started on establishing an optimum size and construction for a twin screw extruder that is compatible with the capabilities of Birmingham’s equipment – and a special extruder will be built, if necessary. The main R&D effort will then undertake a scientific analysis of different screw elements and components, and their effects when used with different materials. Rapra says it expects the project to have a significant impact on the competitiveness of European SMEs throughout the supply chain because of the benefits that will derive from optimisation of machine design, process set-up and production operations. It should also lead to improved simulation and modelling software. Consortium partners include the BPF, PMMDA, GKV and Assocomaplast. Dedicated SME companies that will provide guidance and research input include twin screw specialists Rondol Technology and ICMA San Giorgio.

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