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How Infrared Detectors Bring Ultra-High Precision to the Trash Sorting Process

How Infrared Detectors Bring Ultra-High Precision to the Trash Sorting Process

Feb 24,2023
The circular economy continues to gain traction in organizations today. In other words, they are increasingly applying sustainability principles when producing goods and services, while striving to reduce resource use, increase resource efficiency and minimize the amount of waste generated. A circular economy aims to curb our impact on the environment. With increasing efforts to protect our planet, recycling has become a major challenge facing our society.

For example, since France revised its industrial waste regulations in 2017, the classification requirements for industrial waste have become more stringent. With increasing pressure to increase material recovery rates, the waste sorting industry is being forced to use increasingly efficient and sophisticated techniques.

This is where infrared technology comes into play. IR is able to detect details invisible to the naked eye, so it can accurately distinguish between different types of materials, especially plastics, improving recycling performance. So how do these infrared cameras manage to bring greater precision to the trash sorting process?

That's what we're going to find out in this article.

Identify Different Types of Materials

How to Use Infrared Technology to Sort Garbage?

The recycling system uses conveyor belts to carry all the waste mixture that must be sorted. Every material that needs to be detected emits a specific wavelength in the SWIR range. Optical devices such as prisms diffract different wavelengths on the sensor. Therefore, each line in the sensor sees a separate wavelength, which means the sensor can pick up different wavelengths at the same time. The idea is to use principles of material physics and take advantage of the property that each material emits a unique spectral response. Detectors help recycling systems identify and identify materials, which can then forward each material along a specific conveyor belt.

Technically, the sensor frequency can exceed 300 Hz for VGA resolutions, and even higher for windowed formats (i.e. when only a specific part of the sensor is used), e.g. QVGA format in the kHz range. This high frequency improves the performance and efficiency of infrared technology for sorting and recycling waste.

Identify Different Types of Plastics

Recycling companies can now take advantage of high-performance IR technology to streamline waste sorting and increase recycling rates. If we recycle our waste, we can reduce the number of global CO2 emissions we generate each year.

Thermal imaging is able to distinguish different types of materials and components based on their chemical composition. The actual composition determines the wavelength of the material, which means that recycling systems can identify specific categories of materials and separate them accordingly for recycling.

Infrared sensors capable of operating in the SWIR spectral band can now be used to detect different types of black plastics, including expanded polystyrene, polypropylene, ABS, and PVC, as well as rubber.

Identify Textile Materials

Sophisticated infrared detectors can be combined with waste sorters to improve their performance by accurately identifying residual material. The development represents an important step forward after the European Commission published a new set of directives on recycling textiles and fabrics in 2018 as part of its aim to reuse all textiles around the world from 2025.

There is an increasing urgency to separate textiles for recycling. Currently, IR is the only technology that can power this type of sorting process. Textiles have individual spectral signatures that can be used to grade fabric types. Whether they're made from natural fibers like cotton, animal fibers like wool, or synthetic fibers like polyester, their chemical and molecular structures are different.

They emit different wavelengths, which means they behave differently in the way they absorb, reflect, or refract waves. As a result, recycling systems can more reliably identify and separate different types of fibers and substances.

Infrared sensors operating in the near-infrared spectral region (NIR) can clearly identify the chemical composition of inspected materials and can therefore be used to create the basis for automated textile sorting systems.

With each passing day, infrared technology brings new evidence of how it can create added value and improve performance in a growing number of applications. We have just seen that IR plays a particularly active role in protecting the environment through its ability to speed up, simplify and improve the waste sorting process.

The technology also helps promote a circular economy, which aims to eliminate waste by reusing resources when making new products. Some machines equipped with infrared technology can separate up to 6 tons of plastic packaging per hour.

To learn more about infrared technology and its different applications, or to purchase infrared camera cores or thermal imaging systems, etc., please contact us.

JAVOL is a professional custom infrared imaging equipment manufacturer. Relying on the multi-spectral high-sensitivity photoelectric sensor chip of advanced compound semiconductor materials, with deep learning AI algorithm as the engine, integrated low-light night vision technology, infrared thermal imaging technology, short-wave infrared technology and other spectrum Technology fusion technology, our company designs, develops and manufactures advanced imaging products and system solutions, which are widely used in machine vision, automatic driving, drone payloads, high-end manufacturing, medical diagnosis and other fields.
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