JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 27

Composites recycling: in search of the circular economy

nonetheless because energy, water and natural
resources were conserved by using a composite versus another raw material? Or is the
new composite product something so strong,
stable and durable that its super-long lifespan
effectively negates end-of-life concerns? It is
no wonder lifecycle analysis, also known as
lifecycle assessment (LCA), is a thriving new
profession.
On Day One of the ACMA conference, ISRI's
top scientist pointed to a couple of factors that
can inhibit recycling success in general, regardless of the industry: 1) difficulty in processing,
separating and identifying materials, and 2) a
greater number of material components.
"I know this may seem like an ironic thing for
composites," said David Wagger, Ph.D., chief
scientist and director of environmental
management, ISRI. Composites do present a
sustainability paradox. On the one hand, with
their light weight and superb strength, they
are the perfect materials to enable some of the
plan-et's most progressive eco-friendly initiatives. Composites are used in wind turbines
for renewable energy, lightweight components for electric vehicles and fuel-conserving
aircraft structures, to name just a few. Yet on
the other hand, the proprietary chemistries
and processing techniques that make them so
compelling can also cause complexities.
How can companies sustainably deal with
composite scrap and end-of-life products?
This article discusses how businesses across
the composites supply chain are approaching
the challenges, developing solutions and
working toward the end goal of having a
composites circular economy.

Designing for sustainability
To achieve a circular economic business
model, it helps if a product is designed from
the start for recyclability or reuse. ISRI has
an initiative to encourage manufacturers to
prioritise recyclability early in the product
design process. (See Focus: Design for
Recycling®.) GE Renewable Energy weighs
"circularity considerations" when evaluating
options for wind turbine blade recycling.
Using a frame work from LCA specialist
Quantis, GE weighs choices according to
five impact categories: 1) carbon footprint
(release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases,
2) water footprint (fresh-water withdrawal),
3) human health (respiratory effects, cancer
and other diseases), 4) ecosystem quality
(decreasein biodiversity), and 5) resources
(non-renewable energy consumption and
mineral extraction).
GE also takes a total system optimisation approach, gauging: 1) Is the end-of-life solution
scalable? 2) Is the technology mature enough?
3) Is there a market for the recyclate? 4) Is the
process cost-effective? and 5) Does the endof-life solution enable circularity?
In her keynote at the ACMA conference,
Michelle Simpson, technology leader,
Services Productivity, GE Renewable Energy,
said the industry is working on the challenge
of blade recycling and overall, there are signs
of continued progress.
To find a solution, transparency into the composites supply chain is important. Whether
companies are using virgin composite
materials or composite recyclate (recycled
composite materials), they need to know what

Feature Sustainability

Fig. 1: The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) offers this view of a conceptual composites
recycling ecosystem. This is an example of one potential configuration. For recycling some composite
products, such as large items like wind turbine blades, there can be more or different logistical steps,
requiring additional or different participants and flows within the ecosystem.

those materials contain in order to plan for
how their scrap and products can be recycled
or reused. "The properties of the incoming material are paramount to every decision that you
make," Simpson said. "This is a fundamental
challenge with recycling in general: How do you
get a consistent raw material into your process so
that you can produce a consistent product? If your
raw material is a recyclate, that becomes more
and more challenging because it may or may not
be the same every time."
Simpson said it would be helpful if the industry developed a database where composite
material suppliers could list their material
contents. Then composite material users and
their recycling partners would be better able
to develop end-of-life solutions for composite
parts and products.
The composites industry also needs specifications for its recycling processes and scrap
types. According to ISRI, a typical scrap
specification should include: 1) a description
of the scrap material, 2) a list of any allowed
contaminants, 3) the percentage of those contaminants that is allowable for the recycling
process, and 4) a list of prohibited ingredients
and contaminants that are forbidden even in
scarce amounts.
A recycling process specification should
list acceptable composite feedstocks. "Any
composite recycling process should have a specification that goes with it," Wagger said. "Then no
one is confused about what is wanted and what
people should be providing. Also, if there are any
regulatory questions, the industry will have these
specifications that explain exactly what is going
into the recycling process and what is coming
out of it. Specifications will be immensely helpful
toward establishing a functional, sustainable
composites ecosystem."
For composite applications demanding high
structural strength and other mission-critical
performance characteristics, consistency and
quality in materials selection is essential. There
is no exception to this rule in the application of
recycled composite technologies.
Speaking at the ACMA Recycling Conference,
Camille Seurat, product development engineer at ELG Carbon Fibre, described the role
of reprocessed composites in the production
of the world's first carbon fibre rail bogie.
It is called CAFIBO, a name derived from
CArbonFIbreBOgie. Bogies, also known as
railroad trucks, are a type of chassis used to se-

/ jec composites magazine

27

N°136 September - October 2020



JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020

Cover
Edito
“We can change the way we envision global shipping overall”
Contents
NEWS
In brief
Agenda
BUSINESS
Reinforcement - Natural-fibre composites: an overview
Startup - When 3D printing meets sustainability
China - Xinzhou bets on the bamboo-based composites industry
MANUFACTURING
Wind - lnnovation in wind power through multi-process-capable systems
Automation - Higher production capacity thanks to automated manufacturing
FEATURE Sustainability - The path has been plotted
Recycling ecosystem - Composites recycling: in search of the circular economy
Mobility - A new generation of recycled composite materials for sustainable mobility
Preimpregnated textile - Healable composites to improve circularity
Process - New trends in composites and plastics recycling
Raw materials - Innovative composites made from up to 92% reclaimed materials
Construction - Biocomposites and automation: a sustainable future for the building industry
Ressources - Waste-free composite wheel production
Wind energy - From bottle to blade
Durable composites - Upcycling plastic bottles into value-added composite applications
Matrix - Novel thermoset composites for more competitive and sustainable industries
SOLUTIONS
Aerospace - Slinging rockets into space
Aerospace - Composites push back the final frontier
Railway - Composite overhead line catenary system for light rail
TECHNOLOGY
Repair - Developing an eddy current-based sensor system for quality assurance of carbon fibres
Inside the lab - Advanced Composite Materials Facility University of Southampton
Resin - Development of new type of plastics: Polypropylene 2.0
Index
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JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Cover
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 2
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Edito
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - “We can change the way we envision global shipping overall”
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 5
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Contents
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 7
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - In brief
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 9
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 10
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Agenda
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Reinforcement - Natural-fibre composites: an overview
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 13
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Startup - When 3D printing meets sustainability
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 15
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - China - Xinzhou bets on the bamboo-based composites industry
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 17
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Wind - lnnovation in wind power through multi-process-capable systems
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 19
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 20
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 21
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Automation - Higher production capacity thanks to automated manufacturing
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 23
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 24
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 25
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Recycling ecosystem - Composites recycling: in search of the circular economy
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 27
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 28
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 29
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 30
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Mobility - A new generation of recycled composite materials for sustainable mobility
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 32
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Preimpregnated textile - Healable composites to improve circularity
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 34
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 35
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Process - New trends in composites and plastics recycling
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 37
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Raw materials - Innovative composites made from up to 92% reclaimed materials
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 39
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Construction - Biocomposites and automation: a sustainable future for the building industry
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 41
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Ressources - Waste-free composite wheel production
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 43
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Wind energy - From bottle to blade
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 45
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Durable composites - Upcycling plastic bottles into value-added composite applications
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 47
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Matrix - Novel thermoset composites for more competitive and sustainable industries
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 49
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 50
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Aerospace - Slinging rockets into space
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 52
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 53
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Aerospace - Composites push back the final frontier
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 55
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Railway - Composite overhead line catenary system for light rail
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 57
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 58
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Repair - Developing an eddy current-based sensor system for quality assurance of carbon fibres
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 60
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 61
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Inside the lab - Advanced Composite Materials Facility University of Southampton
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 63
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Resin - Development of new type of plastics: Polypropylene 2.0
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 65
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - Advertisers
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 67
JEC COMPOSITES MAGAZINE - Issue #136 - September/October 2020 - 68
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