Thanks to the PolyStyreneLoop Initiative, a sustainable and ecological circular economy for EPS insulation materials, even containing the former flame retardant HBCD is being developed. A first pilot plant is currently being built.
Towards a circular economy
Over 70 companies along the entire EPS value chain are involved in the PS Loop Initiative. Their goal: to collect EPS insulation materials containing the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), which was used until 2015,from the deconstruction of buildings, and to process them into new, high-quality EPS products. In this way a closed product cycle for the insulation material is achieved.
EPS containing HBCD no longer has to be burnt with energy recovery. The dissolution process which has been developed uses a special solvent to separate the polystyrene from the HBCD and allows it to be reused to produce new insulation materials. The HBCD is destroyed and the bromine also recovered.
Development of the Solvent process: first application tests
Thanks to its ability to produce small quantities of EPS in the laboratory, SUNPOR Kunststoff GmbH, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer IVV, was able to support the PS Loop project with various trials and provided the raw material for these trials. The effectiveness of new solvent processes on deconstructed ETICS made of HBCD-containing EPS was examined on a laboratory scale and the necessary criteria were evaluated in order to be able to implement the process on an industrial scale.The technology developed releases the polystyrene from the used EPS while maintaining the polymer chain. The polymer chains are washed at the molecular level, remain unchanged, and can be used again in their original application.
This makes it possible to selectively remove HBCD and other contaminants from the deconstruction insulation material and to recover the bromine it contains. The bromine can finally be used to manufacture the new polymer-FR flame retardant that has been used since 2015.
The deconstruction EPS insulation material was recycled to polystyrene granulate using the solvent process. The used EPS was dissolved, and the polystyrene was separated from flame retardants and other contaminants. The resulting granulate was then converted by Sunpor into new EPS, containing polymer FR. This product has the same high quality as virgin EPS and fulfills all requirements for reuse, for example in new ETICS.
mit-sicherheit-eps.de German Website FSDE - Forum sicheres Dämmen mit EPS
Result: The recycled EPS meets the highest quality requirements
The results of the first laboratory tests were important steps towards development of a closed product cycle. Thanks to this new recycling option, deconstruction EPS will soon be recycled effectively and cleanly, making a valuable contribution to environmental protection.
„Thanks to the PolyStyreneLoop, new technologies can now be used to produce products that meet our high quality standards. That is why we at Sunpor are actively committed to this sustainable and future-proof path.”