The Use of Froth Flotation for Selective Separation of Plastic Wastes from Soil
Kofi Moro and Dorothy A. Dechie
Abstract — In recycling of plastics, unless the goal is to form composites or materials having special properties, it is not advisable to mix plastics of different kinds because of the differences in their molecular weights and chain lengths. Hence, there is the need to separate these plastics when they are mixed before recycle can be done. This project investigated the selective separation of Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS) and Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics out of soils using froth flotation. Pulverized samples were prepared from post-consumer plastic sources (PP, PS and PET) and soil and mixed uniformly to form a composite sample. The composite sample was subjected to froth flotation. Two tests were performed. A first test, where there was no addition of a depressant (tannic acid), and a second test, where there was addition of tannic acid to depress some of the plastics in order to selectively separate them. Recoveries from each test work indicated that, plastics are naturally hydrophobic and can be floated out of soils without modifying their surface properties. However, selective separations of the plastics were achieved when tannic acid was used to modify the surface properties of the plastic types.
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