Sustainable plastics processing
The Professorship for Polymer Engineering was founded in 2008 by Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in conjunction with Wavin. The goal was, and still is, to use applied research as a tool to bridge the knowledge gap between industry and education.
The team specializes in sustainable raw material use and processing. Recycling, eco-impact and energy savings are therefore at the top of the agenda. Their activities in the field of Industrial Additive Manufacturing and Smart Industry 4.0 aim to improve the competitive position of the Dutch manufacturing industry.
Our research projects
This research group specializes in Engineering & Design for the plastics and manufacturing industries and generates output in the field of applied science. The team is a fusion of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Product Design and Electrical Engineering. This practice-oriented research takes place within the research themes hybrid design, sustainable production, industrial additive manufacturing and circular economy. The knowledge we gain in this process, flows straight back into education and business. Below we list some of our projects.
Research programme Reuse of End-of-Life Composites
In a circular economy, the concept of waste does not exist. Any waste stream can be used to make a new product. In this system, it is important that products, components and raw materials remain of high quality. The professorship researches how high-quality new construction materials can be made from waste streams and what applications are possible for them.
SIA RAAK SMEs Hybrid recycling of polymers
This research project is a continuation of the RAAK SME Industrial Reuse of End of Life (EoL) thermoset composites project, which concluded in October 2019.
Thermoset composites are difficult to 100% recycle as they cannot be restored to their original component raw materials. The European approved route for recycling is to recover the calorific value through incineration. This does not, however, exploit the beneficial properties that the material still has, such as high strength, stiffness and excellent water resistance. The industry has been looking for a good recycling solution for decades, because the number of EoL composite products, in particular wind turbines blades, will increase exponentially.
The project objective is to investigate the possibilities of using lamination and injection techniques to make products from recycled composite with sufficiently low costs. This will achieve a high level of circularity.
Using a new technology of hybrid re-use of polymers, it will be possible to develop products that can be used in construction and infrastructure that can replace traditional materials such as wood and concrete. The research is carried out by various co-operating project groups of (teacher) researchers, consortium participants and supported by students. The following demonstrators are used:
- Beam with energy absorbing capacity
- Beam with high bending stiffness
- Flat-filling building component with heat-insulating ability
- Flat-filling building component with high shape stability
Subproject: Chemistry below the waterline
This study investigates the leaching of recycled composite. As this is a new development, no data is available on the possible leaching of the material. We measure if harmful substances dissolve or leach out as a result of the influence of rain or (ground) water over many years. This research is important to be able to process recycled composite on a larger scale and apply it in road and hydraulic engineering.
- Type of research: experimental
- Partners: Bootjessloperij ’t Harpje, Nederlandse Jachtbouw Industrie, Certion, Attero, BiinC, RecyBEM, Provincie Groningen, Sekisui Alveo, Poly Tec, Fatol, Aliancys, Lantor, CT-Platon, PBS Schelling, ORAned, ODOLPHI Technical Support, Poly Products, Future Pipes Industries, Polem, Fiby Products, MLS Management, Sphagnum Beleggingen B.V., Lapinta Beheer, SGS INTRON, Groningen Seaports, Waterschap Zuiderzeeland, Save Plastics, Welex, Reimert Bouw en Infra, In-Garden, NS, Prorail, Professorship for Polymer Engineering
- Made possible by: SIA RAAK-mkb
Dr. Albert ten Busschen, associate professor Polymer Engineering
E-mail: email@example.com(opens in new tab)
- Research programme Reuse of End-of-Life Composites
Ultrasonic-assisted extrusion of polymer profiles
Together with partners from industry, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences wants to innovate in profile extrusion of recycled plastics, and to make the development of extrusion moulds more sustainable.
It is challenging to make dimensionally stable profiles when working with recycled polymers. Virgin plastics often have very constant material properties (viscosity) but with recycled plastics there are differences in the properties of the material. As a result, the production costs of recycled profiles are significantly higher.
The goal of this project is to better adapt the extrusion process to each batch of recycled polymer and to make the development of new moulds more sustainable and consistent.
We do this by influencing the viscosity using ultrasonic vibrations in the mould. The viscosity can be used to control the flow rate in the mould. This project is aimed at developing an ultrasound assisted extrusion die in a cooperation of researchers, students and entrepreneurs.
- Status: ongoing project
- Type of research: experimental
- Length of the project: 1-2-2021 to 31-8-2022
- Client: Regio Deal Regio Zwolle
- Partners: Profextru, Timaflex, CF-Kunststofprofielen, Federatie Nederlandse Rubber en Kunststofindustrie (NRK)
Regio Deal Regio Zwolle
The Ultrasonic Extrusion research project is made possible by Regio Deal Regio Zwolle. This is a collaboration between the government and the region, to reinforce the strength of the region.
Tijmen Mateboer, research professorship for Polymer Engineering
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org(opens in new tab)
Mixing in Single Screw Extrusion
This research is a continuation of the project Sustainable Extrusion Processes in Pipe Production.
The objective is to predict the dispersive and distributive mixing process in a single-screw extruder using simulation of the extruder's metering section.
Operation of single-screw extruders
An extruder is a device specially designed to convert solid plastic (often granulate) under pressure into molten polymer. Single-screw extruders are often used in the production of plastic pipes. Generally speaking, the single screw extruder consists of a conveying section, a compression section and a dispensing section. In the conveying section, the plastic is transported as a solid granule, in the compression section the plastic is melted and in the dispensing section the polymer is transported through a viscous resistance that determines the output versus the pressure build-up. A disadvantage of single-screw extruders is the poor mixing quality.
A better understanding of the mixing behaviour of an extruder, in order to design mixing elements more effectively. This would allow us to reduce the number of master batches in the production of, for example, coloured tubes. It should also result in an extension of the technical rules to predict the output of an extruder to higher values.
The research project Mixing in Single Screw Extrusion is made possible by TechForFuture, Centre of Expertise HTSM Oost, an initiative of Saxion and Windesheim.
- Status: ongoing project
- Type of research: experimental
- Length of the project: 25 November 2019 to 30 November 2021
- Client: TechForFuture
- Partners: Windesheim, Wavin T&I (Orbia)
Dr. Jakob Buist, Programme Manager Sustainable Production
E-mail: email@example.com(opens in new tab)
- Ultrasonic-assisted extrusion of polymer profiles
Railway sleepers from old railway coaches
The NS (Dutch Railways) were looking for ways to reuse old train materials. Until recently, the discarded interior wall panelling and luggage racks were not reusable or recyclable. An innovative technology was developed to reuse End-of-Life composites to give these materials a new purpose. Associate lector Albert ten Busschen: 'By machining the train parts in mega-shredders, long flakes are created that can be reused as a raw material in new construction material. From guiding beams to desks. And now also as sleepers.'
The core business of the Professorship is research, but the team is also responsible for the content of two minor programmes: Polymer Product Engineering in Zwolle and Composite in Almere, and the unique master's programme Polymer Engineering(opens in new tab) (together with NHL Stenden).
The industry is always looking for well-trained technicians. The research activities of the Professorship respond to this by strengthening the (international) competitive position of the business community in the east of the Netherlands and beyond. As a social partner, the business community is directly involved in the education and research programme.
On 22 November 2021, Margie Topp won the Deltapremie for her research into 'difficult polymers'. Every year, 1.5 billion car tyres worldwide reach the end of their lifespan. A mountain of waste that can no longer be used. The grant, an initiative of Regieorgaan SIA and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, was awarded for the second time and is a recognition of the valuable contribution that professors and their research groups make to society.
In November 2021, another prestigious prize went to Polymer Engineering. Associate professor Albert ten Busschen received the RAAK award for his research into hybrid reuse of polymers. Under Albert's direction, bank revetments from windmill blades and railway track components from old NS interiors have been made. The RAAK jury is 'impressed by the wide range of products that are difficult to recycle and to which the method can be applied. This research offers a solution for a growing problem: plastics that are very functional in their use, but difficult to recycle'.
Our professors and researchers
Margie Topp, professor
Margie Topp is professor in Polymer Engineering at Windesheim and specializes in research in the field of composites and polymer technology.
Albert ten Busschen, associate professor
Albert ten Busschen is associate professor Polymer Engineering and leads the research programme on Reuse of End-of-Life Composites.
Geert Heideman, associate professor
Geert Heideman is associate professor of Polymer Engineering at Windesheim and is responsible for the Rubber Recycling and Industrial Additive Manufacturing programmes.