Efficient methods to recycle composite materials
The aerospace industry is increasing its use of composite materials because of the advantages they offer in terms of weight reduction and strength. One of the drawbacks of these composite materials is the complexity of recycling them.
In response to this challenge, Aimplas is coordinating the Sparta project, with the participation of Tekniker. Both centres will develop a new recycling method for key waste processing and reprocessing procedures. Specifically, Tekniker will contribute its knowledge and experience in mechanical cutting to the development and optimization of an innovative mechanical scrapping process, through simulation and experimentation, while Aimplas focuses on improving material reprocessing through automatic deposition and compression moulding. This method will make it possible to use up to 80% of current aerospace waste compared to other mechanical recycling methods, cut processing times as much as 50% by reducing the number of steps in waste recovery, use more efficient automatic reprocessing methods, reduce CO2 emissions up to 30% through the use of waste, and curb production demand for virgin material.
The result will be new, high-quality composite thermoplastic products manufactured with recycled materials at a production cost 15 to 20% lower than current mechanical recycling and scrap reprocessing procedures due to a reduction in the number of operations and automation of manufacturing processes. Aimplas will also be in charge of analysing the properties of the final product, as well as preparing a guide with eco-design recommendations for industrial scale-up of the process.
The project began this month and will end in October 2022. It has received funding from the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 within the framework of the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative under grant agreement number 887073. This project is in line with SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production, SDG 13 on climate action, and SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure.