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Project name:

Finnish company offers a new thermomechanical process technology for recycling and converting fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) waste under a licensing agreement or a commercial agreement with technical assistance.

Status: Idea
Creation date: 14-09-2022

Project objectives:

Short summary A Finnish technology SME seeks new partners under a licensing agreement or a commercial agreement with technical assistance. It offers a low cost and up-scalable thermomechanical processing technique with commodity equipment to convert thermoset FRP waste from end-of-life products (EoL) into new circular raw materials and products in large volumes. The FRP waste of wind turbine blades, boats and manufacturing can be used. The technique has been demonstrated in a large scale H2020 project.

Full description The Finnish SME specialised in plastics processing invention and development was founded in 1995. It focused five years ago to resolve a global massive technical problem how to recycle FRP waste in a simple and low-cost process. The company had been active in R&D for over 15 years in process technique and commodity equipment used in production of wood-plastic-composites (WPC) for decking boards, fencing, siding etc. This technique was found suitable and was developed and demonstrated to fit for the purpose. Now the company is offering the patented technology for a licensing agreement or a commercial agreement with technical assistance, for plastic recyclers, demolition companies, product manufacturers etc. The technical assistance can be given in the form of consulting in materials, equipment purchase and supply, training, and technical know-how. Exclusive purchase of the IPR is also negotiable. Downsizing/shredding of the FRP waste is not part of the company offering. The process is using pre-shredded FRP waste (glass and/or carbon) from any type of wasted products, as well as from their manufacturing, in strand sizes anything say up to max. 100mm long without the need of grinding into dust while keeping the volume pre-processing costs down at low energy consumption. Possible harmful contaminants like wires, fixtures, metals etc. shall be parallel removed in the pre-shredding step. Shredded FRP waste becomes in the thermomechanical agglomeration process mixed as reinforcement with widely available thermoplastic materials PE or PP (recycled or virgin) in a high intensity mixer in desired weight ratio e.g. 50/50. Together with chosen additives it forms 1..10 mm sized agglomerates in the semi-molten stage of the thermoplastic. The new fibre reinforced from recycled composite raw material in agglomerate form is ready to use e.g. in extrusions for panels, profiles etc. products for structural applications in construction and other. Agglomerates can also be compounded into standard sized pellets to sell the new composite material in different grades at international markets for their processors. The composites and products manufactured from them can be seen in the pictures of this profile. The process is easily scalable with various size mixers from 200 litre size up to 2000 litre size and outputs exceeding well beyond 1000 kg/h. The process produces no waste, energy consumption is marginal low and needs just cooling water and preferably in closed loop with a chiller. Typical material values (in extruded products): • density 1.2 - 1.4 g/cm3 • moisture absorption & dimensional swelling (28d water soaking) +/- 0% • surface hardness Brinell (HBS 10/3000) 60-100 • flexural strength (MOR) 30-50 MPa • flexural modulus (MOE) 3-5 GPa • EN fire rating class B-d0-s2 (with halogen free flame retardant) • no rotting, no mould growth, no leaching, pesticide free, formaldehyde free. Processing technique, materials, extrusion products and construction applications have been demonstrated and proven in large scale circular economy H2020 project in 4 European countries using shredded EoL wind turbine blade waste.

Advantages and innovations Thermoset based (epoxy, polyester, vinylester) FRP plastic materials with glass or carbon fibre reinforcements are considered non-recyclable and therefore when wasted they become landfill or incinerated. The problem with consumer and commodity plastic waste e.g. polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) is that though it technically is trivial to recycle, it is recycled worldwide in much too small quantities for the reason it is not a good business as its physical and mechanical characteristics are not adequate for more demanding applications where market would pay higher prices for the recycled material. The innovation & solution to this is to bring the two waste streams together in new circular raw materials called “recycled composites” produced in a simple thermomechanical agglomeration process using well known mixing equipment existing worldwide. Two problems are solved: • Create a feasible recycling solution and profitable business for FRP waste to utilise the shredded material providing reinforcement effect from short fibres and the thermoset remains as filler • Improve the physical and mechanical characters of commodity thermoplastics PE and PP (with FRP waste) in order to apply them in more demanding and better priced volume markets and applications such as structural construction, shelters, cabins, outdoor furniture, table tops, cabinetry in moist conditions, composite railway sleepers and many more. Advantages of the manufacturing process: • Produces no waste and energy consumption is very low • New recycled raw material is circular and can be used again and again • Simple continuous batch process in a single unit at outputs >1000 kg/h • Easily scalable from small size start-ups to large scale production • Agglomeration equipment existing in the market from selected European quality suppliers, & e.g. China • New reinforced raw material grades for extruded profiles, panels etc. & injection moulded components e.g. automotive.
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