Blackburn based innovator Longworth has been invited to join two of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapults in a new initiative to tackle end-of-life composites.
Sustainable Composites is kickstarting a number of projects to mature existing technologies and to develop new and innovative disassembly, reuse and recycling methods in the move to achieve a circular economy in carbon fibre composites. Currently the vast majority of end-of-life carbon fibre worldwide isn’t recycled and poses a risk to life if landfilled and allowed to access our ecosystems and watercourses.
Steam to Value Stream
Drawing together the knowledge and expertise from the NCC, CPI and Longworth, the Steam to Value Stream project aims to answer the most pressing questions for the wind and aerospace industries concerning end-of-life for composites.
The project will investigate how Longworth’s patented DEECOM® steam process can be used to reclaim high performance carbon fibres, and whether the same process can also recover some of the matrix material. The fibres reclaimed will then be used in the University of Bristol’s HiPerDiF fibre realignment technology to create recycled, highly aligned semi-preg tapes.
Originally invented as a cleaning process for the plastics industry, DEECOM® works using superheated pressurised steam to remove resins and reduce polymers. Fibres with ‘pristine’ tensile strength and mechanical performance properties can then be reclaimed and remanufactured.
“Our passion as environmentalists is to bring low carbon solutions to the industries we work within.”
John Norris, Longworth chairman said, “This project and the partnership with our colleagues at NCC aligns perfectly with our ambitions for DEECOM® technology and the benefits it can bring to the waste sector. While innovators first and foremost, our passion as environmentalists is to bring low carbon solutions to the industries that we work within. We’re excited to see the outcome.”