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Pilot composite recycling plant in Germany using Freelance DCS

Control system can be rapidly and easily adjusted in case of plant modifications and extensions, to save time and money

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Saperatec GmbH’s new industrial pilot is able to recycle 100% of composite material from beverage cartons, photovoltaic modules or laminated glass. The plant is controlled by the flexible Freelance 2013 distributed control system.

Made of plastic, aluminum and paper, the beverage carton is a classical example for composite packaging. Apart from packaging, there are many other types of composites. For instance, photovoltaic modules consist of glass, semiconductors and plastics; car glass is also composed of different materials. The recycling of all used materials is ecologically and economically worthwhile. According to information provided by Saperatec GmbH, composite material valued at more than one billion Euros is disposed in Germany each year.

The technology provider Saperatec is located in Bielefeld, Germany and provides innovative solutions to recycle composite materials. Composite materials can be clearly separated by specially developed emulsions so that all components can be re-used as secondary materials. The micro-emulsions use the effects of tensides and dissolve the layers of the composite material. In the first step of the processing, the material is shredded in order to enlarge the surface area as much as possible for the exposure to micro-emulsion and to facilitate material handling in the process. The core process is the treatment of the shredded composite material in the micro-emulsion. The separation process happens during stirring with low temperature, until single fractions materialize in the emulsion. The products are subsequently filtered, cleaned, sorted and dried, if necessary.

Main facts

Industry Chemicals / Recycling
Customer Saperatec GmbH
Partner  HMR RAUTEC Automatisierung und Prozesstechnik GmbH
Country Germany
Solutions  Freelance 

Pilot plant to map customer requirements

In order to be able to demonstrate the entire recycling process, Saperatec launched the operation of a pilot plant in its premises in November 2013. It mapped the entire technical control process on an industrial scale and demonstrated a solution for a customer-specific separation process. 

The entire separation process until the extraction of single fractions was realized in the plant: the mixing of the micro-emulsion, the treatment of the composite material in the emulsion, the washing of the material, the re-feeding of micro-emulsion and the sorting of the single fractions. The plant is primarily used to treat representative quantities of composite material for customers and to derive thereof the parameters for the design of customer-specific processes.

HMR RAUTEC Automatisierung und Prozesstechnik GmbH, an ABB channel partner from Bielefeld implemented the control system for the pilot plant. Based on its long standing experience in the construction of switch cabinets and in the management of projects in process technology, it won the contract. When asked to recommend a suitable control system, HMR RAUTEC introduced ABB’s Freelance DCS to Saperatec’s management. The company is a Freelance specialist; HMR RAUTEC was honoured by ABB in 2013 with the Freelance prize for their expertise with this control system.

Hans Peter Schwarz, project director from HMR RAUTEC
“Freelance was the first choice for the system design. Due to the simple and consistent system structure, Saperatec could be easily convinced to implement this process control system. Not only did we have long standing experience with Freelance, the many advantages of the system also helped to convince Saperatec."

Easy to use and configure

“Freelance was the first choice for the system design. Due to the simple and consistent system structure, Saperatec could be easily convinced to implement this process control system. Not only did we have long standing experience with Freelance, the many advantages of the system also helped to convince Saperatec. These include, for example, the use of only one engineering tool, the integrated, system-wide availability of the user interface across all processes and operator stations as well as the graphical user interface with powerful editors”, explains project director Hans Peter Schwarz from HMR RAUTEC. 

In one of its first application, the new Freelance 2013 was used in the pilot plant of Saperatec. HMR RAUTEC supplied the controller AC 900F with S700 I/O modules, the Freelance software, the licences for the engineering tool Control Builder F Professional and the operator software DigiVis as well as the switchboard cabinet. They were also responsible for the documentation and the electrical installation.

Central connection of I/Os

The most evident innovation of the new Freelance version is the newly developed controller AC 900F. It expands the hardware portfolio of the process control system by many options; it has double the capacity as compared to the AC 800F controller and is fully compatible. The possibility of connecting I/Os directly to the CPU was a deciding factor for Saperatec. This significantly simplified the set-up of the control system. With the higher performance of AC 900F, Freelance also has the capacity for future expansions, which is advantageous for a pilot plant like this. 

“Freelance has proven itself in the operation of our pilot plant. It is particularly important for us that the control system can be rapidly and easily adjusted in case of modifications and extensions to the plant, which will save us time and money”, Dr. Sebastian Kernbaum, managing director of Saperatec GmbH pointed out.

Dr. Sebastian Kernbaum, managing director of Saperatec GmbH
“Freelance has proven itself in the operation of our pilot plant. It is particularly important for us that the control system can be rapidly and easily adjusted in case of modifications and extensions to the plant, which will save us time and money”
About Saperatec GmbH

Saperatec GmbH is a technology leader in the separation of glued and laminated structures and in the recycling of precious raw materials. Sophisticated physical and chemical principles are used in order to produce secondary raw materials innovatively. Saperatec has been awarded several times, among them the innovation prize of the German economy and the German prize for raw material efficiency.

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