The aerospace industry, a sector perhaps not known for its sustainability performance, is now turning its attention to technologies that will help reduce its impact on the environment.
High-performance composites are an often applied solution to reduce aircraft weight, which, in turn, lowers fuel consumption and CO2 emission rates. These materials include biocomposites, which use natural fibres as reinforcement and resins from renewable sources.
Despite the advantages of these high-performance composites, they present a problem once they become waste as efficient end-of-life solutions are still lacking.
Now, a new European project - ELIOT - has been launched with the aim of developing innovative ‘green’ technologies for the disposal and recycling of end-of-life biocomposite materials used in the sector. The goal is to increase resource efficiency and to fully align these biomaterials with the principles of the circular economy.
Coordinated by AIMPLAS, the project, in which Dutch research centre TNO is one of the other consortium partners, will first review the current treatment technologies for conventional FRP composite waste, to evaluate the extent to which these could also be used for biocomposite waste. The most feasible of these methods will be selected, adjusted for treating biocomposites and tested at laboratory scale. The project will examine different recycling methods, including mechanical, thermal, chemical and biological recycling.
Full-scale demonstration will be provided for at least two of the end-of-life methods for two target biocomposites, including their technical validation at pre-industrial scale and their validation in terms of net environmental benefits and cost savings throughout their entire life cycle.
The project started in July 2020 and will last 32 months.
The ELIOT Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme within the framework of the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative under grant agreement number 886416.