EMPHASIZING project sees early breakthrough

An early breakthrough has been made in the Innovate UK-funded EMPHASIZING project, which has been investigating the circularity of glass fibre composite materials.

EMPHASIZING project sees early breakthrough

1 minute, 20 secondes

The excellent properties offered by these materials as well as their lightweight performance has seen them adopted by a range of industries. Most of the £54.5 billion composites market consists of glass reinforced plastic (GFRP), with over one million tonnes of GFRP being produced each year in Europe alone.

When added to plans to decommission thousands of tonnes of composite wind blade material over the next two years, there are clear challenges around dealing with GFRP waste.

The EMPHASIZING project has been working to find solutions for adding value through upcycling GFRP waste using innovative re-sizing, rather than devaluing it via landfill or incineration, as is often the case today.

TWI has carried out materials characterisation and can confirm that project partner Longworth has achieved a key milestone with their ‘DEECOM®’ process for the reclamation of clean glass fibres from decommissioned wind turbine blades; achieving an output of 100% glass fibre, completely free from the polymeric residue or debris usually associated with wind blade construction.

Figure 1. Segment of GFRP from end-of-life wind blade
Figure 2. Clean glass fibre reclaimed via DEECOM®

This now sets the scene for further progression of the EMPHASIZING project through TWI and partner activities towards the overall project objectives. Upcoming work packages including volume scaling of this output, effective chopping and re-sizing in a range of materials for testing, followed by compounding and part manufacture, all with LCA data modelling and characterisation at each stage.

The overall aim is a proven use case in mass production parts for the upcycled materials, providing a low cost, sustainable and readily available source of composites that can be used in the automotive sector, where lightweight materials are being used in increasing amounts.

The Emphasizing project has received funding from Innovate UK under No 10035094.

More information www.emphasizing.co.uk