The principal objective of the HiPerDry project was to create a significant advance over the state of the art in hygroscopic polymer drying technology. A three year development programme, which culminated in the testing and demonstration of a prototype drying system for hygroscopic polymer granules, was proposed. The resulting microwave enhanced superheated steam drying (MW-SHSD) system boasted the following advantages:
- 30 to 50 % reduction in process energy costs as well as run time;
- the ability to efficiently dry heat-sensitive hygroscopic polymers (especially biopolymers) without the risk of material degradation; and
- the build-up of new know-how about the drying and processing of heat-sensitive bioplastics.
Energy consumption is an important competitive factor for European plastics manufacturing SMEs, as they nowadays find themselves facing several socio-economic developments due to the increasing scarcity of resources. Energy prices have continually risen within the last years and will rise more and more. Thus, energy-related costs are becoming a crucial limiting factor for operational profits. The reduction of energy consumption and thus production costs will result in an increase of competitiveness against upcoming overseas markets. Additionally, raw materials for fossil-derived polymers are decreasing. Consumption patterns are thus increasingly changing towards bio-derived polymers. The development and processing of bio-based polymers, though still a niche market, have recently gained a crucial importance with Europe in a leading position in this area.
In order to promote the growth of a very important European collective, not only the innovative process developed in this project provides a gentle means to remove moisture from temperature-sensitive hygroscopic polymers, avoiding partial degradation of the polymer, but also enables significant energy and time reduction in drying. Besides, transfer of the scientific findings and technological knowledge to the SME supply chain and end-users was secured through establishment of a Best Practice Guidelines on Drying Methods for Hygroscopic Polymers.
Project finished on December 31st, 2016
The HiPerDry project finished at the end of 2016. After 39 months of intensive research the Consortium could successfully develop a microwave enhanced superheated steam drying (MW-SHSD) system. The system is now stored at the University of Stuttgart, Institut für Kunststofftechnik. If you are interested in our unit and further individual material tests please contact the project coordinator.
The Consortium would like to express its gratitude to the European Commission for the financial support of this research within the FP7 Framework Programme of the European Commission (Grant No. 606425).
Knowledge Transfer Mechanisms - HiPerDry
The figure summarises the knowledge transfer mechanism of HiPerDry and highlights the complementarity of the
participants to execute the project and subsequent exploitation and dissemination of the project results. The
HiPerDry consortium consisted of twelve partners from six different EU27 states with complementary and
non-overlapping expertise that were able to successfully deliver all of the interrelated aspects of
this project and to develop a novel microwave-enhanced superheated steam process for high performance drying
of hygroscopic polymers. It contained necessary skills, resources and capabilities from industrial
participants; five SME-AGs, two SMEs and one large enterprise, and four research institutions in the enabling
technologies (superheated steam drying, microwave technology, polymer processing, material science, and
integrated sustainability impact assessment) and the subsequent exploitation and dissemination, ensuring all
stages that sustainability (economic and environmental) was scientifically verified.
The partners in HiPerDry were among Europe's leading plastics industry associations: the Asosiación Española de Industriales de Plásticos (ANAIP) from Spain, the Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing Machinery and Moulds Manufacturers' Association (Assocomplast), the British Plastics Federation (BPF) from the UK, Plastipolis from France and the German Association of Plastics Converters (GKV) represented by TecPart. The consortium was furthermore supported by technology providers: Bierther GmbH (DE), a manufacturer of drying systems for polymer granules, and Faperin (ES), a producer of plastic parts for automotive and electrical applications. Heckmann Maschinenbau und Verfahrenstechnik GmbH (DE) completed the consortium as machinery and system integrator.