The European Patent Office (EPO) has today announced the 15 finalists nominated for the European Inventor Award 2019 which includes EREMA’s Klaus Feichtinger & Manfred Hackl for their ‘Higher-performance plastic recycling’ developments.
The Award, now in its 14th year, celebrates the genius and creativity of inventors and inventor teams for their contributions to scientific and technological progress, their role in generating economic growth, and their impact on our daily lives.
"These inventors are tackling some of society's most pressing challenges head-on. From fighting cancer to reducing plastic waste, the contribution of our finalists is spearheading a drive towards a better future," said EPO President António Campinos. "The range and impact of their innovations are also positive for the European economy.
For Austrian inventors, Klaus Feichtinger and Manfred Hackl, what started as a simple sketch led to reshaping plastic recycling. Their patented Counter Current technology means that a wider variety of plastic waste can now be turned into pellets, ready for industrial reuse and indistinguishable from new plastics.
Plastic recycling is complex and time-consuming. Separating plastic from other waste can be a slow process and each type of plastic requires a specific method for reclaiming usable material.
Feichtinger and Hackl have developed new technology capable of efficiently sorting and separating plastics, meaning less waste and more new plastics available for production.
Their recycling machines, which can be as big as buses, move, sort and filter plastic matter, delivering a high-quality pellet at the end that will be used to create new products.
A key innovation has been Feichtinger and Hackl's Counter Current technology. Waste material enters an extruder and is rotated in the opposing direction to the flow of the extruder screw - in the same way as you would collect water from a stream, by putting a cup against the movement of the water.
Thanks to this process, more waste material can be processed at faster rates than previously possible and at lower temperatures. This technology, based on an idea first quickly sketched out by Feichtinger, is a crucial part of the inventors' recycling machines and is protected by several European patents.
You can vote for Feichtinger and Hackl to become the outright winners of the award HERE
In the video below Feichtinger and Hackl discuss the technology.
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