Polímeros: Ciência e Tecnologia
Polímeros: Ciência e Tecnologia
Original Article

Separation of PET from other plastics by flotation combined with alkaline pretreatment

Fernando Pita; Ana Castilho

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Plastics are naturally hydrophobic, so the selective flotation of plastic mixtures is impossible without changing their surface properties. The objective of this research is flotation separation of PET from PS, PMMA and PVC combined with sodium hydroxide pretreatment. NaOH pretreatment had a strong effect on PET’s floatability, medium effect on PMMA and PVC and limited effect on PS. The reduction of PET floatability is ascribed to a sharp decline of contact angle. The optimal pretreatment conditions were: 10% NaOH concentration, 70 °C (PET/PMMA and PET/PVC) to 80 °C (PET/PS) and plastic treatment times in the alkaline solution of 20 min (PET/PMMA and PET/PVC) to 30 min (PET/PS). Flotation separations were achieved efficiently and the best results were obtained for the PET/PS mixture, with a floated PS grade of 98% and a sunk PET grade of 100%. PET and PS was separated effectively, implying that sodium hydroxide treatment possesses superior applicability.


alkaline treatment, flotation, particle size, plastic


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