Automatically sortation of vehicle components by applying the infrared spectroscopy

By the use of infrared spectroscopy, different plastics in a given shredder fraction can be identified and sorted. Plant control functions are assumed by the software developed for the purposes of this project, which is based upon fuzzy logic.


Given the continuing increase in the number of motor vehicles in Germany, and the associated increase in the proportion of plastics used in vehicle production, new technologies will be required if the re-use of recyclable plastics and components from scrapped vehicles is to be achieved.  To date, the strict separation of plastics from metal components has only been possible by the highly uneconomical method of manual dismantling.

Under the terms of an overall project, it was intended to investigate an alternative process for the automatic sorting of plastics from vehicle waste.  The object of this project was the sorting of plastics, which would previously have been disposed of by thermal methods, into uniform grades in order to allow the recirculation of the latter in the material cycle.  To this end, components must firstly be crushed and metals must be separated in a preliminary sorting process.

The object of this subproject was the investigation of the subsequent automatic sorting process, based upon infrared spectroscopy.  To this end, standard devices for the sorting of household refuse have been modified and tested in a pilot installation for the processing of shredder fractions of typical vehicle waste composition.


  • Various IR sensors have been installed in a trial arrangement, and the suitability of these sensors for the sorting of plastics has been tested.
  • A pilot installation comprising 32 measuring heads has been installed over a conveyor belt and successfully tested.
  • A specific software, based upon fuzzy logic, has been developed for the control of this installation.

More Project Information

Project title: Processing of complex subassemblies from scrapped vehicles by the application of identification processes (Part 7)

Project number: 01RK9907/3

Project period: 1999 - 2002

Project region: Germany (Berlin)

Project contact:

Herr Dr. Lucht

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Source: German National Library of Science and Technology Hannover (TIB)