FURI | Spring 2022

Crosslinked Polyethylene (XLPE) Recycling via Foam Engineering

Sustainability icon, disabled. A green leaf.

Only 16% of plastic products are recycled annually, and polyolefin polymers are at the top of plastic production. Polyolefin polymers include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), and cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE). Our focus is recycling XLPE, which is a by-product of disposing of electrical cables in Arizona. One utility company disposes of 540 tons of XLPE annually, ending up in landfill sites. Unfortunately, the material can not be melted because of the strong homobifunctional crosslinking. Consequently, the material requires a gate-to-gate novel recycling method that reduces carbon emissions of the material’s end of life. Therefore, this project aims to study the morphological characteristics, mechanical properties, and thermal properties, find proper applications, and conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) for XLPE’s end of life.

Student researcher

Mohammed Bawareth

Manufacturing engineering

Hometown: Jeddah, Saudia Arabia

Graduation date: Fall 2023