Research paper accepted to the Journal of Cleaner Production

BiSSL MS alum Jewel Williams just had her coauthored full-length research paper accepted and published in the Journal of Cleaner Production! The paper, titled “Matrix Trays: From Waste to Opportunities,” advances a circular economy approach and was done in collaboration with the Department of Architecture Dr. Ahmed K. Ali and his Ph.D. student Patricia Kio. The work couldn’t have been done without the 2019 Mechanical Engineering senior design team of Alexandra Stewart, Zachary Merrill, Austin Grosklags, Miguel Cervantes, and Joseph Bustillo. This team came up with a case study design that reused matrix trays – which are currently a major single-use plastic filling our landfills – as part of an interdisciplinary seed grant from Texas A&M.

Abstract: “Matrix Trays are single-use plastic carriers used to transport integrated chips and circuit board components during automated test and assembly processes for Printed Circuit Boards. These trays represent a significant yet consistent waste stream; primarily in the electronics industry and many other industries that integrate microchips into their products especially the automotive industry. By the end of 2017, the National Sword Policy which was implemented by China on plastic waste import from other countries and especially the United States catalyzed a huge crisis and forced manufacturers and companies to deal with their own plastic waste streams. This study presents two alternative approaches of reusing trays to the reduced conventional recycling practices which have caused used trays to remain in storage or be deposited in landfills. Approaches including a students’ design competition and a proof of concept case study for an autonomous shading device are presented. The shading device was designed, tested and validated. Trays were transformed from waste into 13 possible products showing that a circular economy and industrial symbiosis can be achieved by integrating multidisciplinary reuse approaches for by-product reuse and sustainable industry practices. Environmental and economic impacts were evaluated comparing reuse to recycling, combustion and landfilling. The results showed that reusing trays reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Ali, A., Layton, A., Kio, P., & Williams, J. (2021). Matrix Trays: From Waste to Opportunities Journal of Cleaner Production, 300. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.126813

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