The recycler being developed will grind the object made of plastic, melt it and then produce a new filament (extrusion process) of the same polymer. Subsequently, this filament can be used in the 3D printer to produce new objects and parts for use on the International Space Station.
First, the shipment and use of this recycler at the ISS will serve as a demonstration of recycling technology at zero gravity. This is an important milestone for homologating the technology for use in future long-term space missions. At ISS, the machine will enable the recycling of plastic objects that are no longer in use at the Space Station.
The recycler that will be developed by Braskem and Made In Space is the first recycling equipment permanently allocated outside the planet, and will give astronauts the possibility of reusing plastic objects. This technology will contribute to reducing the costs of space missions, reducing the weight transported from Earth and, consequently, will extend the autonomy of the new missions to space in the future. In a sustainable, innovative and effective way, recycling closes the plastic cycle in space.
Made In Space is an American organization founded in 2010 as the first manufacturing company focusing on outer space. It was hired by NASA to develop, build and operate their 3D printing experiment in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station (ISS). With over 30,000 hours of trials and more than 400 test flights parables in microgravity, Made In Space took the first 3D printers designed and built for use in zero gravity to the International Space Station.
Braskem has partnered with Made In Space since the development of a Green Polyethylene solution for 3D printing in zero gravity environments. Braskem is the exclusive supplier of Made In Space's Green PE, as well as other materials produced by Braskem (PP, PVC, UTEC) that may be used in some projects. The second stage of this partnership will develop a plastic recycling machine and take it to the International Space Station for use by astronauts.
The parts printed in outer space will meet specific needs on the International Space Station, as the replacement of damaged parts or those have some kind of malfunction.
The Green Polyethylene was chosen to unite the innovative polymer developed by Braskem with the most innovative 3D printing process: 3D printing in zero gravity. Green Polyethylene combines important features - flexibility, tenaciousness, chemical resistance and recyclability - besides being a product from a renewable source.