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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S018352/1
Title: Green Recycling And re-manufacturing of Carbon fibre composites for a circular Economy (GRACE)
Principal Investigator: Gong, Dr RH
Other Investigators:
Wang, Professor Y Su, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Atkins Beijing Mega Material Innovation Work Co China Communications Construction
Xiros Plc
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2019 Ends: 29 February 2024 Value (£): 784,270
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Processing Waste Minimisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Oct 2018 UK-China Low Carbon Manufacturing Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP), with their superior combination of stiffness, strength, thermal stability, light weight and corrosion resistance have been leading contenders in various applications, ranging from aerospace to ground transportation, construction industries to sporting goods. The global transition of aircraft with composite architecture is estimated to contribute 15%-20% of industry CO2 reduction targets by 2050, due to the lightweight design. Strengthening of structural members using CFRP is one of the most commonly used methods in the construction industry to prolong the life of existing structures.

An increasingly significant amount of CFRP composite waste is being generated as large quantities of such materials starting life in the 1970's applications reach their 50-year service life. As these materials are thermoset, their decomposition and recycling are an urgent worldwide challenge. The existing recycling techniques generally require complicated processes, expensive facilities or toxic chemicals. Because the existing recycling methods need shredding or milling of the CFRP composite before recycling, the recycled carbon fibres have low commercial values. Moreover, the existing recycling methods focus on recovering fibres and the resin remains waste.

This project will develop international leading technologies of recovering carbon fibres from end-of-service-life (EOSL) carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites. The recovering process will be operated under ambient temperature and pressure. It will be zero waste and the recovered fibres will maintain the original dimensions and strengths. The transformative recycling methodology of this project will be based on the award-winning technology, the Electrically driven Hetero-catalytic Decomposition (EHD) method, patented by the applicants. The reclaimed fibres will be fabricated into continuous fibre yarns. Potential cost savings of more than 20%-83% and energy savings of 82%-98% have been predicted for using recycling technologies.

In addition to using recycled fibres, this project will incorporate low environmental impact bio-resins in CFRP composites and demonstrate their applications in aviation and construction industries through thorough testing and modelling. A cradle to grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be carried out to provide data for optimisation of resources and minimisation of environmental impacts. This collaborative project will take advantage of supplementary international leading expertise from the UK and Chinese partners to deliver transformative technologies to harness the full value of end of service life CFRP composites for a circular economy. The project team will use their wide networks of contacts to actively engage with key stakeholders in the entire supply chain of the composite industry in both the UK and China to ensure the widest interest in and take up of the outcome of the project.

Key Findings
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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk