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Research: Recycled composites can be used in new industry applications
Source:Adsale Plastics Network    Editor:JK    Date:14.Jul.2021

Latest research being conducted by the National Composites Centre (NCC) is proving that composites can be recycled at end-of-life for use in new industry applications, providing solutions for the challenge of composite waste and reducing the environmental impact of advanced materials.


The innovative project is being conducted by the NCC in collaboration with a cross-sector group of industry-leading organizations, including Network Rail, Airbus, Shell and Gen 2 Carbon as part of the NCC’s Core Research Programme.

The UK’s world-leading research Centre for composite materials, and part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC’s research aims to demonstrate the recycling of end-of-life composites, and increase industry confidence in the subsequent use of the non-virgin materials in second-life applications.


Carbon fiber reinforced polymer being extracted from the vertical tail plane.

The project has successfully extracted carbon fiber from two Airbus A320 vertical tail planes that had reached the end of their service lives, using a pyrolysis process. The reclaimed fibers will now be processed and configured into a fabric format that can be used with liquid resin composite manufacturing processes.


The new material combination will be assessed and characterized for its mechanical performance, before being used to manufacture a wheelchair ramp against design criteria from the rail sector.


Carbon fibers extracted from vertical tail plane after the resin has been removed.

The demonstrator will show the cross-sector application possibilities for end-of-life composites, with the learning from this case study being taken forward and transferred to other products in sectors such as construction, rail, automotive and more.


Dr. Enrique Garcia, Chief Technology Officer at the NCC, said, “This initiative is successfully developing the technologies required to overcome these challenges, paving the way for a new supply chain of recycled composites, allowing more industries to make use of their unique, beneficial properties at a lower cost.”


The recycled composites can be used in new industry applications, such as railway.

The Core Research program is a cross-sector initiative involving the NCC’s Member organizations that identifies the biggest challenges currently being faced by industry and solves them through collaborative research and development.


In partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the NCC also leads the Sustainable Composites initiative. Through this program, the NCC works with companies of all sizes to create a more sustainable future utilizing the benefits of composite materials and applications.



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