Our ambition is to provide a competitive advantage to the European manufacturing industry by bringing innovative technologies to life that will enable the circularity of complex composite materials, turning what we consider nowadays end-of-life composite waste into feedstock for profitable.
THE RECREATE PROJECT
The main objective of the RECREATE project is to develop a set of innovative technologies aimed at exploiting the potential of end-of-life complex composite waste (mainly carbon fiber reinforced composites, and glass fiber reinforced composites) as a feedstock for profitable reuse of parts and materials in the manufacturing industry.
The EU composites market size is foreseen to grow steadily with an annual growth rate of 7.5% in the next few years. Legislation is progressively banning landfilling in many countries and the amount of composite waste to be recycled and reused is growing, expected to exceed 80,000 tons in 2025, what represents a huge potential for the manufacturing industry across the EU. On the other side, there is an increasing market demand of high-performance fiber materials (especially carbon) at affordable costs in many sectors like automotive and transportation and in general for the lightweight design field. It is therefore crucial that new technologies evolve and penetrate key industry value chains. These new technologies should, in the first place, substitute the more consolidated mechanical grinding and pyrolysis to allow the recovery and reuse of materials and components without compromise to downcycling, this creating significant circularity effects, providing both convincing environmental sustainability and economic profitability.
There is a massive potential for replication and multiplication of the RECREATE solution at world-wide scale. Through its demonstrators RECREATE directly affects 70% of the composite consumption sectors (EU Composite industry market size equalled €16 Bn in 2019, growing at 8.8% worldwide (CAGR 2021-2025), including transportation (14% in value, represented by EDAG), wind energy (14%, represented by RES-T), aerospace (15%, represented by Invent and Geven), consumer goods (24%), with Head as our main demonstrator. Moreover, in terms of geographical distribution of composite use in manufacturing, the RECREATE covers the 90% of the European market distribution.
In the light of these considerations, the ambition of RECREATE project is:
– To develop and validate in relevant environment (TRL6) novel reuse strategies for current generation, large EoL composite parts (including complex multimaterial composites) based on smart recognition and inspection for sorting (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy – LIBS), high precision dismantling (laser-shock) and repair, T-assisted reshaping, design for disassembly based on reversible joints, AI-assisted decision support systems;
– To develop and validate in relevant environment (TRL6) innovative physico-chemical upcycling technologies (catalyst-assisted green solvolysis, electrofragmentation) allowing simultaneous recovery of high quality, integer, clean fibers and of an organic resin fraction reusable as coating material, at the very end of the multiple reuse processes of parts;
– To demonstrate at TRL6 the use of smart and green reversible thermoset resins as enabling materials for the realization of the next generation of fiber-reinforced composites (FRCs) with easier repairability and enhanced reusability, facilitating the transition towards recyclable-by-design composite materials and structures.
Moreover, RECREATE addresses another key objective, that is the development of a set of new digital tools for:
– The quantitative evaluation of the environmental and economic performance of the proposed technologies (LCA/LCC) as well as their circularity assessment;
– The co-design of innovative digital learning resources, including the realization of MOOCS, serious games and digital twins of some specialty technologies developed in the project, with easy adoption and high replicability.
The objectives and the ambition of RECREATE are fully compliant with the general requirements of the Horizon Europe – Digital, Industry and Space 2021 Work Programme, and with the specific requirements of the call Horizon-CL4-2021-Resilience-01-01, as shown schematically in the following Table 1.
Lead partner, coordinator:
Politecnico di Milano
prof. Gianmarco Griffini
Associate Professor, Materials Science and Technology
Communication. dissemination, exploitation manager:
Giacomelli Media Ltd
Founder and managing director