Separation of mixed waste plastics via magnetic levitation

Peng Zhao, Jun Xie, Fu GU, Nusrat Sharmin, Philip Hall, Jianzhong Fu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Separation becomes a bottleneck of dealing with the enormous stream of waste plastics, as most of the extant methods can only handle binary mixtures. In this paper, a novel method that based on magnetic levitation was proposed for separating multiple mixed plastics. Six types of plastics, i.e., polypropylene (PP), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyamide 6 (PA6), polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), were used to simulate the mixed waste plastics. The samples were mixed and immersed into paramagnetic medium that placed into a magnetic levitation configuration with two identical NdFeB magnets with like-poles facing each other, and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was employed to verify the separation outputs. Unlike any conventional separation methods such as froth flotation and hydrocyclone, this method is not limited by particle sizes, as mixtures of different size fractions reached their respective equilibrium positions in the initial tests. The two-stage separation tests demonstrated that the plastics can be completely separated with purities reached 100%. The method has the potential to be industrialised into an economically-viable and environmentally-friendly mass production procedure, since quantitative correlations are determined, and the paramagnetic medium can be reused indefinitely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Density
  • Magnetic levitation
  • Mechanical recycling
  • Multiple plastic mixture
  • Plastic separation
  • Waste plastics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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