Composites Research Group
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The Composites Group recycling activity, led by Prof Steve Pickering, started in the in early 1990s with Ford to demonstrate end-of-life compliance of glass/polyester body panels, when our fluidised bed process was first developed.

As use of higher-value carbon fibre has increased, the recycling process has become more economically viable, and a major theme of the recycling activity is to produce high value composites from recycled fibre.

Recycling of Composites

Recycling of Composites

 
 

Since 2012 we have had a strategic collaboration with Boeing to develop recycling solutions for aircraft end-of-life and in-process scrap. In this inclusive partnership Boeing has invested over $3m building a unique fully-instrumented, commercial scale, fluidised bed pilot plant on the Nottingham campus.


Research projects

Boeing Nottingham Strategic Collaboration

Boeing and the University of Nottingham developed a strategic collaboration in Carbon Fibre recycling (2012 - date) to develop recycling solutions for Boeing aircraft end-of-life and in-process scrap.

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EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites

“Underpinning the development of next generation composites manufacturing processes based on low cost, short cycle times, efficiency and sustainability”
The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp) was set up in June 2011 following funding of £5.2 million over 5 years awarded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) for the development of a national centre of excellence in fundamental research for composites manufacturing.

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Towards Affordable, Closed-Loop Recyclable Future Low Carbon Vehicle Structures (TARF-LCV)

Funder: EPSRC

Co-investigator: Nick Warrior

Partners:

The UK automotive industry is a large and critical sector within the UK economy. It accounts for 820,000 jobs, exports finished goods worth £8.9bn annually and adds value of £10bn to the UK economy each year.

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Markets for fluidized bed carbon recycling

Project: Development of markets for the commercialisation of a fluidized bed carbon fibre recycling process

Funder: EPSRC

Principal Investigator: Steve Pickering

Partners:

  • The University of Nottingham (Lead)
  • Technical Fibre Products Ltd
  • Advanced Composites Group

The University of Nottingham have developed a fluidized bed process for recycling carbon fibre composite materials. It's unique feature is that it is capable of processing contaminated and mixed waste from end-of-life components. In this project commercial applications for the carbon fibre recyclate will be developed. The recyclate processing route will be to make non-woven fabrics using technology already demonstrated by the Collaborating Partner and then develop end markets for this material.

RCUK Project

 
Carbon Fibres
Investigator: Steve Pickering
 
Recycling of Carbon Fibre Composites by Solvolysis at atmospheric pressure

Project: Investigate the Potential for the Recycling of Carbon Fibre Composites by Solvolysis at Atmospheric Pressure

Principal Investigator: Steve Pickering

Co-investigator: Peter Licence

Project start date: April 2015

Duration: 6 months

Context, aims and objectives

Carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) are ideal lightweight structural materials for aerospace, automotive, energy and sports industries and the global demand for carbon fibre, used almost exclusively in thermoset polymer composites, is forecast to grow from 46,000 tonnes in 2011 to 140,000 tonnes by 2020. Carbon fibre is a high value material that is energy intensive to manufacture and affordable technology to recover and recycle it from manufacturing waste and end of life components is required to improve its sustainability.

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Composites Research Group

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG9 5HR


contact: Prof Nick Warrior
email: composites@nottingham.ac.uk