Reclamation of Urethane Foam from Automotive Seats 980095

As part of projects conducted for the PolyUrethanes Recycle & Recovery Council (PURRC), various equipment and processes have been utilized to isolate the useable polyurethane foam in post consumer automobile seats. The overall purpose of the project was to design a “turn key” process to isolate the components of seats removed from autos into polyurethane foam, steel, and fabric and other coverings.
The projects were conducted in two phases:
The objective of Phase I - (Primary Size Reduction) was to compare the capital cost, throughput, and product quality (particle size and coverings/metal liberation) associated with the primary size reduction of whole auto seats. Three types of size reduction equipment were considered: shear shredders, rotary grinders, and ring mills. Based on these comparisons it was concluded that a ring mill was the best option.
The objectives of Phase II - (Process and Logistics) were to:
  1. 1.
    Determine any foam quality issues that might affect the design of the separation process.
  2. 2.
    Determine an effective process that can be used to separate the foam from pre-ground auto seats.
  3. 3.
    Estimate capital cost for the process.
  4. 4.
    Investigate designing the process for portable installation.
  5. 5.
    Determine any logistical issues involved in locating the process at a shredder or dismantler.
The conclusions of Phase II were:
  1. 1.
    Covering contamination in the foam should be less then 5 %.
  2. 2.
    Air aspiration equipment can effectively separate foam from pre-ground auto seats.
  3. 3.
    Estimated costs for the major pieces of equipment was estimated to be about $840,000.
  4. 4.
    The portable plant option is not logistically or economically viable.
  5. 5.
    The process should be located at a large dismantler.
The results of this project reveal that technologies exist to recycle post consumer automotive auto seats to produce scrap urethane foam for use in carpet under-layment, or as a feed stock for the glycolosis or powder recycling processes. Additional work needs to be undertaken to understand the business viability of the process.


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