Axion Group

Compositional Analysis Services

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Understanding the composition of complicated waste or material streams is vital for many applications. These include accurate modelling of MRF or MBT processes at design stage, or determining the efficiency of separation or sorting processes.

Carrying out a compositional analysis is not a trivial task. In order to obtain useful data the analysis must be carried out on a sample that is representative and large enough to have a low statistical error.  Samples are sorted into as many different material types as is required, including packaging types or polymer types.

Axion Consulting has developed a compositional analysis methodology that can be tailored to each individual material stream or process. We utilise various software-based tools to ensure the correct sample size is sorted and follow tried and tested sampling techniques to give representative, repeatable results.

Compositional analysis can be carried out at the client’s site or can be done at one of our own recycling facilities.

Compositional analysis provides a detailed breakdown of the materials within any waste or product stream. Within the waste and recycling sector process streams are often complicated mixtures of materials. Understanding the composition is vital for designing new separation facilities such as MRFs or MBTs, assessing local
authority collection services or understanding consumer behaviour with regards to waste disposal.

Analysis is only worthwhile if the results are statistically representative. This means the method of sample collection and the correct sample size are specific to each material type and the average weight of individual items in the waste stream. Axion has developed a range of techniques to ensure samples are representative and that the results are statistically meaningful.

We apply the correct methods to each task and have perfected a portable software-based tool which allows any sampling or measurement task to be checked for accuracy and reliability “right on the job”.

Sorting can be carried out either at an external site where we will plan and manage the trial, supplying all necessary equipment, or samples can be transported to our Salford based plant for analysis. Axion have carried out compositional analysis for both private and public organisations.

Typical material streams previous analysed include:

  • Household dry mixed recyclables
  • Residual black bin bag waste
  • Commercial and industrial waste
  • Construction and demolition
  • Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE)
  • Food waste (Back of store)

Over the past ten years Axion Consulting’s Process Engineers have seen numerous examples of sampling and analysis methods being employed to provide critical process control data which is then used by site managers to make important commercial decisions. On many occasions the design of the sampling method, the
frequency and size of the samples being taken are inadequate for the required level of confidence in the results.

Often the ‘sampling method’ is chosen by site operating staff based upon a loose guess about what feels right. The selected material sample is then transferred to an analytical laboratory where further sub- samples are taken at random and complex preparations carried out to allow an expensive instrument to be applied and yield a ‘key number’ as the end-result. Management later reports that the test results are ‘varying wildly’ and ‘cannot be relied upon’

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