The project aimed at developing a plant for the sustainable, cost effective, purely physical recycling of thermosetting and thermoplastic carbon fibres reinforced composites typically obtained from the dismantling of End-of-Life Aircrafts. The plant was based on an innovative process of emulsification of grinded and sorted CFRP into a thermoplastic matrix, followed by lamination or pelletization. Potential applications of the recycled compounds were automotive, interior and outdoor design, as well as non-structural components in aircraft industry. The latter should have properties comparable to those of virgin materials, but with lower cost. A feasibility plan in the real industrial environment was obtained, also considering the possibility of adaptation of existing industrial plants. Technical and economical implications were highlighted, together with their impact on the environment during the production cycle with reference to the healthy human oriented working. A risk assessment plan was supplied.
Following the successful achievements of the Clean Sky Project SUSRAC, "Sustainable Recycling of Aircraft Composites", the IRECE project, "Industrial Recycling of CFRP by Emulsification", aimed at the development of a complete plan for the industrial production of thermoplastic highly filled composites based on Polystyrene matrix and CFRP dispersed phase, following the pilot scale demonstration.
The industrial plant was designed starting from the following concepts:
The carbon fibre reinforced resins (CFRP), either thermoplastic or thermosetting, are ground to different sizes and emulsified in a thermoplastic matrix in order to obtain sheets or granules. The emulsification process is carried out at room temperature (hence, cost effective) using a thermoplastic matrix Expanded Polystyrene (EPS). Such material is made widely available as a result of its use as loose fill packaging for fragile goods. Moreover, its lightness (30 kg per cubic meter, on average) makes its disposal highly difficult. Combining these two streams of materials, namely CFRP and polymer matrix, the industrial process aims to obtain good performing composites at a low cost. The industrial plant must reach these targets, but also do a complete evaluation of the ecology and economy of the process.
The skills of the proponent and of the chosen partner guarantee a complete definition of all the industrial variables necessary to a complete estimation of costs and impact of the innovative production.
WPs/tasks vs. DoW in % of completion:
WP1 - Feasibility in the real industrial environment of CFRP milling and sorting. It is completed at 100% in all his Tasks
WP2 - Feasibility of mixing and extruding CFRP in a thermoplastic matrix in a real industrial environment. It is completed at 100% in all his Tasks
WP3 - Technical and economical impact of the selected industrial technology. It is completed at 100% in all his Tasks
WP4 - Environmental Impact and Risk Assessment of the Production cycle. It is completed at 100 % in all his Tasks
WP5 - Manufacturing plan for end item top assembly. It is completed at 100 % in all his Tasks
WP6 - Dissemination and Final Report. It is completed at 100 % in all his Tasks
WP7 - Management. It is completed at 100 % in all his Tasks
Main Resources used in the Project
Most of the resources of the Coordinator and of the Partner were employed for the activation of Research and Technical Assistance Contracts. Some resources were allocated for the participation at conferences on sustainable materials.