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Case Studies

Asan Wood Saints Logo

Based in Wolverhampton, Wood Saints is a new community wood recycling business collecting unwanted wood from building sites, manufacturers and householders. Preparing it for sale, via upcycling or manufacture of usable products such as kindling & pulp, creating jobs and volunteering opportunities for local people.

Wood Saints offer a competitive collection service across the Black Country, South Staffordshire, Telford & Shropshire. Saving money on skip hire & boosting social responsibility in the process. Collections are taken to The Dixon St Wood Depot, a 10,000 sq/ft facility which houses a timber yard, wood workshop & retail store, selling upcycled products, furniture & other items from local craftspeople. Profits generated are reinvested to improve quality of life for people living in the All Saints area of Wolverhampton.

Contact: info@woodsaints.com or call 01902 556683 / 07950 347718

Background to the support provided

Having met representatives of Asan Wood Saints at a local launch event, subsequent discussions with the company, on how EnTRESS may be able improve the company’s manufacturing process, centered around two areas of development. Identification of suitable laser cutting equipment to expand production capabilities and secondly a review of the compressed air supply system. This was to advise on its design and fitness for purpose.

Installation advice and factors to consider that allowed expansion of the system as production increased, key requirements of the company. An additional benefit of working with EnTRESS was an opportunity to participate in a challenge/showcase event, themed around waste management & treatment, held at Wolverhampton Science Park March 1st 2018. This event was supported by Rolls-Royce, City of Wolverhampton Council and the Environment Agency.

What was accomplished?

The knowledge transfer process

Starting point for the project was a site visit to review Asan Wood Saints’ manufacturing process and carry out an assessment of the current workshop facilities.

At the company’s request EnTRESS identified a suitable small low cost laser cutting machine which will enable Asan Wood Saints to expand their production capabilities particularly small decorative items.

After reviewing the current compressed air supply system, EnTRESS was able to advise on the design of a new, more efficient distribution system fit, for purpose and one that would allow for expansion of the production area, provide maximum air flow and maintain air tools at optimum condition.

In addition EnTRESS was able to demonstrate the benefits of introducing an entry level CAD software package, DraftSight, to design new products and aid the construction process by providing cutting list data, record constructional details for efficient repeat ordering and minimize wood waste.

A further aim of the project was to work with the company to enable its participation in an EnTRESS challenge/showcase event, themed around waste management and waste treatment. Held at the Wolverhampton Science Park, supported by Rolls Royce, City of Wolverhampton Council and the Environment Agency and with over 60 delegates. The event showcased the company its ethos and products to a wider audience than usual.

 

Solutions Identified

  • Identification of small scale, low cost laser cutting equipment to expand production capabilities was achieved with a system from Mantech for £3180.
  • Review the compressed air supply system, identified the need for a Ring Main system to be installed. This would provide maximum delivery of air pressure & cover the entire production area with one system also allowing for expansion as the company develops.
  • EnTRESS also introduced an entry level CAD software package, used to design new products, it also aids the construction process by providing cutting list data, record constructional details for efficient repeat ordering and minimize wood waste.
  • Asan Wood Saints participated in an EnTRESS challenge/showcase event, themed around waste management & treatment. With over 60 attendees networking with speakers, exhibitors from business, academia, national & local government, a number of new contacts & opportunities were generated.
  • Bespoke wooden house construction software was also identified. Provided by SEMA, this software is suitable as a progression from the 2D DraftSight software initially introduced

Asan Case Study

Bromford Iron & Steel Logo

Bromford Iron & Steel Co Ltd is a leading producer of hot rolled flats, sections & custom profiles supplied worldwide. Part of the OSSL Group, they are based in West Bromwich where, for over 200 years they have built a reputation for outstanding quality and industry leading customer service.

Background to the support provided

Our initial Meeting was at Bromford Iron & Steel in West Bromwich.

Wishing to raise its environmental, resource efficiencies & generally improve profitability of the company which, by the very nature of hot rolling, has very high energy costs, a number of ‘possible projects’ had already been identified internally. Creating a starting point was however proving difficult & an interest in setting up a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University in order to ‘buy in’ expertise & support to work through the ‘projects’ was expressed.

EnTRESS agreed to carry out a baseline audit of the process with a view to creating a snapshot of the current situation. Establishing the level of resource, process & environmental issues will enable the company to prioritise future development.

The project report, is to be used to form the basis of a subsequent KTP application.

What was accomplished?

The knowledge transfer process

Starting point for the project was a baseline process / resource audit this was carried out on the main billet rolling mill to establish principal areas of concern and possible improvement projects.

In addition, a thermal imaging survey of the same production line was also carried out, to establish the presence of ‘hidden’ thermal issues and gauge machine/equipment condition indicators.

During the audit the following principal issues were identified.

  • Significant waste heat from the soaking furnace is vented to atmosphere via an extensive system of ducting to a single large chimney.
  • End cropping of the steel billets was carried out early on in the process, which leads to the scrapping of a section of material and the current cropping shear was liable fail because of the significant mechanical loads placed upon it. Subsequent repair costs & associated loss of production were therefore an issue.
  • The company had expressed a wish to crop billets further on in the rolling process when the billet cross-section has been reduced.
  • The cooling water used within the rolling process currently has a chemical treatment cost of around £7k per year.
  • In addition, as it circulates within the process, the cooling water picks up significant amounts of lubricating oil which in turn, has to be removed prior to reuse or discharge.

With a number of process concerns & possible areas for improvements identified, additional research was carried out to provide data on the options for either immediate solution to the issues identified or at the very least, indicative solution strategies for the company & University to subsequently follow up.

Most notable is a submission for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) agreement. This data & solution options were set out in detail in a formal report, presented to the company along with an electronic copy of all findings & data.

 

 

Solutions Identified

It was suggested that the significant level of waste heat from the soaking furnace, currently vented to atmosphere could be harnessed in two distinct ways. Firstly, further investigation should be carried out on the use of the waste gasses fed back in to the furnace system to improve pre-heating efficiency.

The second efficiency identified is the possibility of introducing a heat exchanger into the furnace vent system to heat water. The thermograph on the previous page shows that even the outside of the stack is nominally 88.0 deg C despite internal insulation. This was indicative of the level of expensive waste heat escaping.

The primary issue for Bromford was the cropping of the steel billets. Carried out early on in the process, lead to the scrapping of a section of material. Removal of the shearing process and replacement with an alternative cutting process, later on in the rolling sequence would result in a billet end of reduced size being cut. This reduced the level of process scrap by around 2.2kg per billet, this material saving can be converted into saleable product leading to additional revenue of around £30-34.5k, depending upon level of production & steel price.

Bromford Case Study

Established in 1924 and a family run business with a wealth of experience. In-house capabilities allow control of a lean manufacturing process with a modern cloud based planning system.

They deliver high quality solutions at the right price, producing high volume products and custom made one off fabrications.

Background to the support provided

The Company is forward thinking and as such wanted to gain the benefits of further developing its resource efficiency. As a result of discussions with the Company, EnTRESS carried out an initial process audit to identify any resource losses and then propose solutions. Following an initial visit to the site it was agreed that the Company’s compressed air system be specifically targeted as a suspected source of significant resource use.

In addition to the physical resource investigation the Company expressed an interest in developing further its measurement process particularly on small dimensional details. Solutions to this and monitoring of optimum light levels in key production areas also formed part of the project.

What was accomplished?

The knowledge transfer process

Ceandess is a forward thinking company and as such wanted to gain the benefits of further developing its resource efficiency.

As a result of discussions with the Company, EnTRESS carried an initial process audit to identify any resource losses and then propose possible solutions.

Following an initial site visit to review the production process, it was agreed that the Company’s compressed air system be specifically targeted as a suspected source of significant resource use. Two resource streams were explored, energy use of the compressor and losses in the air distribution system. To monitor energy use, a current monitoring data logger was non-invasively installed on the compressor’s 3 phase supply and left on test for a week (Friday to Friday).

The second energy stream, compressed air, was addressed by an inspection of the general condition of the air distribution system with an emphasis on identifying leaks.

Optimum levels of lighting in the main manufacturing area were also the subject of a brief audit to monitor light levels in key production areas coupled with a review of any possible actions.

In addition to the physical resource investigations, the Company expressed an interest in developing its measurement process, particularly on small dimensional details. To this end, research was carried out on non-contact measurement systems that could enhance the Company’s inspection process.

Solutions Identified

  • It is estimated that most identifiable leaks are joint dependent and are 0.1-0.39 mm in size. However, industry estimates suggest that each of these can cost £28 / year in lost energy, based on compressed air cost of £ 0.02 per m3 most systems when assessed have a 25-35% leakage rate equivalent to a loss of around £6300.
  • The compressor also represents an, as yet, untapped source of waste heat. During the initial survey the temperature of the compressor room was noted and compared the outside & workshop temperatures at the time. (Outside 7.7 °C, Workshop 16.6 °C & Compressor   exhaust temperature 44 °C ).
  • To improve efficiency further, consideration should be given to replacement of the current compressor with a more efficient model, based on the energy monitoring shown in Fig 1 below.
  • Suitable non-contact, rapid measurement systems from Keyence were also identified for the company to subsequently         investigate
  • Some low cost maintenance solutions & a phased shift to LED technology were identified as solutions to improve energy saving on the lighting system.

Data logged from compressor 3 phase supply over one week

Fig 1. Data logged from compressor 3 phase supply over one week.

Ceandess Case Study

 

The Chance Brothers Glassworks was established in 1824 and was famed for the production of lanterns for the first generation of modern lighthouses. CGWHT have the freehold over a proportion of the former Chance Brothers site (approx 8 acres), all buildings on site are Grade II Listed and the whole site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).

 

Background to the support provided

Chances Glass Works Heritage Trust (CGWHT) are the custodians of the former Chances Brothers Glassworks site. Derelict since 1981 this promi-nent site located next to the M5 in Smethwick was once the economic heart of the region producing specialist glass products worldwide for light-houses and instrumentation devices. CGWHT want to protect and promote the industrial and culture heritage of the site, with the long-term ambition to redevelop the site into a mixed use residential, educational and creative space for the region. After an initial site visit, it was agreed that EnTRESS would scan a portion of the 7-storey building (see image above) on site us-ing both academic expertise within the School of Architecture and Built Environment and a state of the art FARO Focus S laser scanner.

 

What was accomplished?

The core aim of the CGWHT is to protect the industrial and cultural hertage of the site whilst bringing it back into the productive use for the community through sensitive redevelopment.

After intial discussions and a subsequent site visit, it was agreed that EnTRESS would laser scan a portion of the 7-storey building to aid redevelopment plans and offer CGWHT opportunities to implement BIM (Building Information Modelling) processes into future renovation.

The scanning was completed by Paul Boden, Technical Resource Manager for the School of Architecture and Built Environment, using the FARO laser scanning hardware and software.

Key outputs & Opportunities

The raw data captured during scanning was rendered into a special model using specialist visualisation software by EnTRESS academics.  The data and model is being used for site promotion as a fly through video as well as architectural design and development.   The data has also been used to create a 3D model allowing CGWHT to gain accurate measurments of the building facade and interior layout.

CGWHT Case Study

Fire Protection Recycling Logo

Founded in 2010, Fire Protection Recycling are the UK’s largest recycler of Fire extinguishers, recycling in excess of 500,000 per year.

Based in Oldbury and providing a National collection & disposal service to all sectors regardless of quantity or location. They are an ISO 14001 accredited company giving peace of mind when it comes to environmental responsibilities. As the majority of their customers are from the fire protection industry they also offer a disposal service for other equipment such as smoke detectors, alarms, light fittings, batteries, hose reels & fluorescent tubes, reducing the supply chain length as well as cutting costs.

"We are always looking at new disposal routes to assist with our environmental goals. We also monitor transport to ensure we are doing all that is viable to reduce our Carbon footprint." Contact:

info@fireprotectionrecycling.co.uk

Background to the support provided

Having been initially referred to the University's EnTRESS Project by the Black Country Growth Hub, our initial meeting was at Fire Protection's Oldbury site. The company were interested in exploring the possibilities of re-cycling/re-processing fire extinguisher dry powder.

This is normally a mix of Monoammonium phosphate and Ammonium sulphate. Which by coincidence, are common constituents of agricultural fertilizers. EnTRESS agreed to carry out initial research on the feasibility of re-processing this mix of materials for alternate use.

A secondary aim of the project was to work with Fire Protection Recycling to enable its participation in a EnTRESS workshop / challenge / showcase event, themed around waste management & waste treatment. Held at the Wolverhampton Science Park on the 1st of March 2018 and supported by the Environment Agency.

What was accomplished?

The knowledge transfer process

Starting point for the project was a characterization of the exact chemical make up of the dry powder, as there are a number of powder manufacturers all with slightly differing chemical mixes. This work was done in the University’s chemistry facilities using the latest analytical equipment, by Professor Craig Williams - Professor of Inorganic Chemistry Research.

With the composition identified, tests were then carried out in order to study the effects of dissolving the mix into water &assess its suitability for use in the neutralization of other chemical wastes.

An accepted disposal route for this material is utilization as a fertilizer through an approved, specialized company according to local authority regulations. European disposal No. 160 509. The issue with this option is finding a sufficient market for the quantities in question. Since the company already utilize this method, the improvement required here was to explore methods of strengthening the case for using the powder as a fertilizer. At present the costly alternative is disposal via incineration.

To capitalise on the links & contacts gained during the waste management event and in order to increase the resilience, environmental and economic performance of business Fire Protection Recycling is maintaining its links with the University via the EnTRESS project. As a result Professor Mike Fullen, Professor of Sustainability & Dr Tim Baldwin (School of Biology, FSE) who is a plant biologist, are currently developing an integrated soil-plant response study to assess the effectiveness of this material as fertilizer. This further work will be carried out under a related University project (BRIC) Brownfield Research and Innovation Centre.

 

Solutions Identified

  • Our research suggested that the composition of the recovered extinguisher powder did indeed match that of typical commercial fertilizers.
  • A second research stream for the recovered powder was its use as a neutralizing agent for other more problematic chemical waste. From analysis the powder is 56% Monoammonium phosphate and 21% Ammonium sulphate. The mix once in solution and after initial reaction will end up mildly acidic (ph 4.8) and could be used for the neutralization of alkaline waste. This is however a specialist application and will require further specific testing.
  • In order to assess the effectiveness of this material as fertilizer, Professor Mike Fullen and Dr Tim Baldwin, who is a plant biologist, are to developing an integrated soil-plant response study to assess plant yield. This further work will be carried out under a related University project (BRIC) Brownfield Research & Innovation Centre.
  • With over 60 attendees networking with speakers and exhibitors from business, academia, national & local government. a number of new contacts & opportunities for the company were generated by attending our waste management event.

Fire Protection Recycling Case Study

Prima Makeup Logo

Prima Is a leading UK supplier of bio-degradable, non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly cosmetic glitter. Set up in 2016 Prima captures the best new cosmetic trends from around the world & brings them together in one place, in a range of unique products.

Background to the support provided

Our initial meeting was at the University having been initially referred to each other by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.

The company were interested in developing a manufacturing capability for bio-degradable glitter and need some technical input on dust extraction as the material has a tendency to create ‘glitter dust’ which needs to be separated & contained at source to eliminate environmental contamination & in-process cross-contamination from waste process dust. They also required assistance to develop a more efficiently degradable glitter base material.

EnTRESS agreed to carry out initial research on the feasibility of alternative bio-degradable materials for the manufacture of glitter. In addition an outline concept plan was prepared, which dealt with the issue of dust extraction during glitter manufacture.

What was accomplished?

The knowledge transfer process

Starting point for the project was a researched review of the current range bio-degradable materials available and their applications. With an assessment of their suitability for the manufacture of glitter. The published bio-degradability of suitable materials was also assessed against the aims & criteria set by Prima Makeup as part of their strategic business model.

As an aid to material selection characterization, of the glitter using electron microscopy, was carried out by our academic researchers, Dr Iza Radecka & Professor Marek Kowalczuk.

A review of the glitter manufacturing process was also undertaken in order to assess the source, nature and level of dust produced. In order to select appropriate extraction solutions. The suggested machine enclosure concept is shown right.

In the current environmental climate, the bio-degradability of products is being questioned, with the added issue of in-organic particles, finding their way into the sea and ultimately the food chain. EnTRESS and its academic research team carried out a review of Prima Makeup’s current products with a view to improving business performance in terms of resilience, profitability and competitiveness within the cosmetics industry while at the same time contributing to the protection and preservation of the environment.

The identification of suitable bio-degradability testing standards was a key factor in this projects success, as a means of maintaining and re-enforcing the high quality environmental credentials that are at the heart of Prima Makeup’s business ethos.

Solutions Identified

  • Our research suggested that the composition of the glitter’s base material could be modified to increase significantly the compostability of the product.
  • Three dust extraction solutions were identified ranging from full factory wide distribution systems to low cost individual machine based systems. In addition to the dust extraction, it was also recommended that the machinery be fully enclosed to contain manufacturing dust and have the added benefit of sound proofing the equipment.
  • That consideration is given to the gaining of the EN 13432 Certification for the company’s current products. It should be noted that there are also ASTM equivalents are also available
  • Gaining this standard would bring a positive re-enforcement to the company’s and the product’s environmental credentials.
  • The EnTRESS project has also explored the practicality of replacing the current packaging with bio-degradable containers. To this end we are currently rapid prototyping custom designed sample containers in compostable bio-plastic. The CAD model of which is shown left.

 Prima Case Study

GET are a market-leading manufacturer and supplier of an innovative food waste disposal technology (WasteMaster). The WasteMaster uses anaerobic digestion to remove the water content of organic materials reducing the total feedstock volume by up to 80%.

 

Background to the support provided

Operating in a competitive industry, GET were looking for opportunities expand their client base, as well as develop their environmental
technology to meet the demands of a range of bespoke organic feed stocks in addition to food waste, which the technology was originally
designed for.

WRAP estimate that 10.2 million tonnes of food waste is produced annually in the UK. With 3.1 millions produced by business (inc food manufacture, retail and hospitality).

The WasteMaster technology requires 3-phase power and produces an inert organic material with a high calorific value as the output.

EnTRESS engaged Wolverhampton Racecourse (WRC) who are looking to improve their environmental sustainability and green policies. WRC were looking for an alternative disposal route for their horse manure and bedding and hoped the WasteMaster technology could provide an answer.

What was accomplished?

The Knowledge Transfer Process

Initial EnTRESS work with GET involved understanding the key principles of their WasteMaster technology and how this was different and/or similar to other waste disposal technologies already on the market, as well as identifying how the technology may be used by
other Black Country based business.

EnTRESS established that the WasteMaster in principle was a low-temperature (~60°) anaerobic digester which reduces the total volume of organic content by up to 80% through water content removal, producing a coarse sawdust type organic material.

Due to the lower temperatures found within the WasteMaster vs other technologies, a major anticipated benefit is the retention of the intrinsic calorific value in the output product, which can then be used for added value products in other sectors such as waste to energy. GET asked EnTRESS for some independent calorific data to aid their ongoing business development work.

Wolverhampton Racecourse Opportunity

A key element of the work for GET Ltd was to identify potential end-users of the product. With this in mind, EnTRESS engaged WRC who were looking to become more sustainable, as well as within the wider Arena Racing Company. WRC are owned by Arena Racing Company, the largest race operator in the UK, with 16 racecourses and 2 greyhound tracks. WRC host over 80 racing fixtures a year.

They noted several challenges and opportunities which included, but were not limited to, food waste and horse manure disposal.

WRC horse manure disposal costs (2018) = £8,705 per annum
WRC tonnage of manure produced on site (2018) = 134 tonnes
This excludes both general & food waste, as well as additional compactor costs

3 bedding types across the equine industry paper, wood chippings or straw.
All are used on-site at Wolverhampton Racecourse

Solutions Identified 

The main area of academic input for the project was to undertake calorific analysis of the WasteMaster's output material. Dr John Henry, lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of Wolverhampton, used a bomb calorimeter to determine the energy within the material by measuring heat during combustion.

The addition of food waste to the horse manure made a significant impact, increasing the calorific value by ~65%.

During the trial period, it was identified that the WasteMaster needed to be modified to accommodate horse manure only feedstocks.
This was due to the high volume to weight ratio. To mitigate against this, EnTRESS worked with GET to tailor the WasteMaster to accommodate this feedstock.

EnTRESS Recommendations

• There should be discussions around unit adaptation to cater for different size bins,increasing market opportunity.

• Contamination of waste from passers-by should be considered, as they see a bin and dispose of waste not suitable for the machine.

• Identification of an end-user of the output should be a business priority for GET and they should look specifically at waste-toenergy companies.

Green Eco Tech Case Study

Newhampton Arts Centre (NAC) is a creative venue in the heart of Wolverhampton that nurtures new talent and new ideas. With a wide range of facilities it offers opportunities to enjoy and engage with the arts. As a creative hub it supports thirty resident organisations. NAC is a registered charity and is accessible and open to everyone.

Background to the Support Provided 

The company’s premises include a converted school dating from 1922 but its style is reminiscent of late Victorian Gothic Architecture. The charity was looking for opportunities to expand operations, enhance community engagement and develop the efficiency of its operation while reducing operating costs.

It was thought that energy use could be minimized by improving the facilities management of the historic buildings. The charity was also interested in generating data to be used in grant funding applications for future building improvement projects.

What was accomplished?

The Knowledge Transfer Process

NAC’s theatre was digitally scanned by EnTRESS on two separate occasions; without seating and with seating in place. A total of 38 scans were recorded in various positions in the theatre. The data was then stitched together using Matterport software to produce interactive 3D imagery which was then uploaded to the Matterport Cloud.

The scans captured valuable detail including object measurements, positioning of building services, and the complex configuration of the theatre lighting.

NAC was given access to the point cloud data. The EnTRESS team demonstrated how the data could be used;
• Several JPEG photos and MP4 ‘fly-through’ videos were available to download.

• The “3D showcase” can be explored online in dollhouse and floorplan modes. The space can be explored in a way similar to Google Street View i.e. the user can move around the space viewing the surroundings from different angles in the positions the camera was located in during scanning. The size of objects can be measured in the 3D showcase.

EnTRESS transferred the 3D model of the theatre with seating in place to NAC who are now able to invite other users to view the data. In addition, NAC can:

• View the 3D imagery in mesh format

• Edit the data online by adding labels and “Mattertags” to objects. Mattertags allow additional information to be saved within the 3D imagery, files like documents and photographs can be uploaded or links to external web pages can be saved.

• Purchase a schematic floorplan, publish to Google Street View or download a “MatterPak Bundle”, a package of files aimed for use by architects.

Solutions Identified 

The digital modelling by EnTRESS will provide the management team with a tool that will record current facilities, and feed into their cyclical maintenance and Five Year Planned Programmed replacements to ensure new equipment can be sourced and operated sustainably;

• The downloadable high quality photographs and fly through videos can be used for online marketing and printed literature.

• The ability for NAC to give external organisations view only access to the Matterport cloud data will be very useful when applying for funding or writing reports as it facilitates a better understanding of the NAC set up without the need to visit in person. In addition it will allow theatre groups to plan their stage, seating and lighting requirements without the need for previsiting the site. Less travel will benefit the environments through less carbon emissions.

• The 3D data may also prove useful for theatre renovations in future; it could speed up the process of planning and design. It may aid the management team plan future energy efficiency improvements particularly with regard to heating and lighting of the room.

• There is great potential for the Mattertag functionality as a tool to store meaningful business information and improve the efficiency of processes. For example, fire extinguishers could be labelled with expiry dates; fire doors could have the associated exit plans attached. The various theatre lights could be labelled and technical information uploaded.

Newhampton Arts Centre Case Study

Simbrix Ltd is a manufacturer of plastic arts and crafts toys which encourages boys and girls to be creative. Simbrix colourful pieces connect together without needing to be ironed, glued or sprayed with water and with very few instructions.

Background to the Support Provided

Simbrix products are made from high quality plastic, designed to last through a good deal of play but plastics have a bad reputation. The company wanted to commission some research which aligns with their ethos. They were looking for an opportunity to raise their profile through promoting responsible plastic use. They asked EnTRESS to explore whether single use plastic water bottles can safely be used more than once.

Simbrix aimed to disseminate the information through a joint press release and social media campaign with the University, in order to educate the public about plastic bottle reuse. In addition, it was hoped that the literature review could be used as a starting point for university students and or researchers to develop and undertake laboratory based experimental work on plastic bottles in the future in order to expand upon the research that had already been completed.

What was accomplished?

The Knowledge Transfer Processs

Dr Kate Nixon (Senior Lecturer in Physical Chemistry, University of Wolverhampton) conducted a literature review on the topic of chemical leaching from single-use water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) . The review of previous research aimed to understand whether chemicals leach into water to dangerous levels and the effect of environmental conditions like heat and light on the level of contamination in water.


Findings

Currently there is conflicting advice regarding the reuse of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic water bottles as there is concern about the migration of potentially harmful chemicals into the water they contain. The scientific literature regarding chemical migration from PET is concerned with two main contaminants:


1. Antimony.

Antimony trioxide is used as a catalyst during PET production to speed up the manufacturing process. It is suspected of causing cancer. The maximum acceptable level of antimony in drinking water in the EU is 5 μg / L.

2. Phthalate acid esters (PAEs).

PAEs are a class of chemical used as plasticisers to increase the useful physical properties of pure plastics. Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is the most commonly used. PAEs mimic hormones in the body and disrupt normal function. The US Environmental Protection Agency give a maximum contamination level of 6 μg/ L for DEHP.

Antinomy 

A number of studies have investigated the migration of antinomy from PET into water. Storage temperature is the dominating factor; much more leaching occurs at temperatures of 60Á°C and above. Sunlight also increases the leaching of antimony, but to a lesser extent than temperature. pH in the range typically found for water (6-8) has no effect on the migration of antimony.

The storage time has a negative effect on the migration of antimony into water from PET; there is an initial burst of antimony into the water, after which, the concentration remains constant or decreases. Overall the research has shown the level of antinomy found in water bottled in PET was well below the WHO guidelines (5 οg/L) when stored below 50°C, regardless of storage time.

Phthalate Acid Esters (PAEs)

Various PAEs have been identified as contaminants of water bottled in PET bottles, the five most studied are dimethyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, di-n-butyl phalate, benzyl butyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP).

Dr Nixon focused on investigations of DEHP levels found in still water stored in PET bottles only. The studies originate from a range of countries and have investigated the PAE concentration in bottled water for a range of brands, storage lengths, temperatures and exposure to sunlight. With only two exceptions, the DEHP level was found to be below that set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and is less than one quarter of the acceptable limit in the majority of cases.

The effect of storage time, temperature and exposure to sunlight were investigated. Unfortunately, there is little correlation between investigations, with often contradictory results being reported. Two studies mentioned as a discussion point that the quality of the bottle affected the amount of migration, as did the nature of the plastic (virgin or recycled).

Outcomes

None of the studies found by Dr Nixon investigated the re-use of single-use plastic water bottles and none were focused on the UK. The majority focused on water storage time (days to months and even years) and conditions including temperature and sunlight. Interestingly, the levels of antimony and DEHP were rarely found to exceed the recommended limits.

Another area of concern is microbial growth in single-use bottles which are used repeatedly but not washed well or often enough.

The migration of chemicals from PET into water as a single-use bottle is re-used has not been reported. To determine if re-using single-use bottles is unsafe, due to leaching of chemicals, experimental work will need to be undertaken. Suggested methods for experimental work examining the chemical contamination risks of re-using water bottles has been outlined to Simbrix.

There are many factors to consider with experimental work on this topic. Should the bottle be shaken to simulate use? How many reuses should be simulated? How often should the water be refreshed? The University of Wolverhampton has laboratories equipped to perform appropriate research and will be offering projects to undergraduate and masters students on this topic.

Simbrix Case Study

HugglePets are based in Wolverhampton and operate within the pet supplies, services and distribution industries, as well as offering community engagement through animal therapy programmes.

Background to the support provided

 

HugglePets were looking to improve their bottom line, identify new products and potentially secure additional revnue streams to promote their community work. It was agreed that EnTRESS support would focus on a number of key areas including:

  • Added value application for cardboard tubing- a waste product from a previous EnTRESS project which had potential to be reused by HugglePets
  • Biomass & energy creation- HugglePets wanted to look into biomass energy creation opportunites onsite using their cardboard and wood pallet feedstocks
  • Matterport scanning- HugglePets were looking to raise crowdfunding to build a bespoke Community Aquarium and Sensory Activity Centre. EnTRESS agreed to scan key internal spaces to provide an evidence base for the build and promotional opportunites

What was accomplished?

The Knowledge Transfer Process

EnTRESS sought to identify solutions and opportunities to help HugglePets to reduce their outgoings in key areas such a packaging, heating and electricty. 

Added value cardboard tubing was one resource that EnTRESS had access to through previous projects and contacts. One business was identified as a supplier of these tubes which were thought to be suitable for added value applications by HugglePets.

Matterport Scanning technology wsa used to provide evidence and track the progress of the build of HugglePets new Community Aquarium and Sensory Activity Centre, whilst also acting as a potential tool for the busines sin the future. This work was undertaen through periodic visits with three key scans taking place at different phases of the build process (Pre-construction, mid-constructions and post completion).

During the assist HugglePets approached EnTRESS with a priority area; to source a local supply of boxes which could be reused for their distribution and packaging section of the business. EnTRESS have sought, through a variety of channels and existing contacts to secure a local supply of boxes for the company.

Initially HugglePet sought to identify biomass heating opportunities for the site, as well as potential funding streams to sipport the required investment for such a project. However this became less of a priority for HugglePets due to their interest in other issues. Where possible EnTRESS have source suitable contacts with the biomass industry who can progress this work if the demand returned for HugglePets.

Solutions Identified

EntRESS and HugglePets have collaborated to investigate two potential outlets for cardboard tubing, a waste product from a number of manufacturers. One suggested use was as a chew toy or tunnel for small mammals, a prodcut that could be sold by HugglePets or used by their animals in store. Another suggested use was bespoke packaging to protect the UV lighting &UVB heating bulbs sold by HugglePets which are extremely fragile and can often become damaged.

The Matterport scan completed by EnTRESS can be used by HugglePets in the following ways:

  • The pre-construction scan enables HugglePets to have a permanent record of the previous structure and accurate internal measurements enabling maximum areas and volumes to be calculated. This scan can also be kept as a record to show future tenants, the local council and commercial estate agents how the space previously looked if it were to change hands
  • The final scans at HugglePets can be used by the company as an interactive tool, engaging users that visit the HugglePets website. This gives HugglePets increased promotion of their retail space, enabling users to understand the wide range of pets, pet products and pet accessories that are supplied.
  • The MatterTags within the software can be edited to HugglePets' needs, offering tailored sales/service promotion. Another suggested use is for educational purposes, using images, video and text to increase animal awareness and best practice pet care. 
  • The scans can enable potential visitors to familiarise themselves with HugglePets public spaces. No only is this useful for visitors in wheelchairs or buggies, it also offers confdence for children and adults with mental disabilities who might be nervous or apprehensive to visit unfamiliar spaces.

EnTRESS helped source local suppliers of cardboard boxes for HugglePets through contacting the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and previous projects. One suitable box supplier was identified and a meeting was set up between the two businesses.

EnTRESS sought to identify the best options for biomass heating for HugglePets which they may wish to adopt in the future. A biomass consultancy business was contacted that would be able to support HugglePets, and EnTRESS advised on what information would need to be provided to the biomass consultants. 

HugglePets Case Study