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Controlled Pyrolysis: A Robust Scalable Composite Recycling Project

The composites recycling project is an industry-collaborative effort to develop a thermal composites recycling technology founded on the process of controlled pyrolysis. Through the recycling of scrap and end-of-life (EOL) composites this pilot study is intended to create a business case by realizing a cost effective means for recycling EOL composite materials, ultimately reducing the volume of composite materials destined for landfill. The project is led by the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) and the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) with generous support from Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL), Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), Ashland LLC, A. Schulman, Owens Corning, John Deere, CHZ Technologies, and Plastics Europe (CEFIC).

The team will study and test CHZ Technologies’ controlled pyrolysis system, the Thermolyzer™, which operates on a scalable basis and is capable of converting liquids, tars and oils from a resin matrix into synthetic gas for sustainable use in the recycling process, while also recovering both glass and carbon fibers for reuse and safely reducing any additives to salts. Characterization and analysis of materials both pre- and post-processing will establish the tangibility of reusing these processed fibers, applications of highest potential and the energy obtained during processing.

In order to address the needs of the diverse and multi-tiered global composites supply chain, a techno-economic analysis (TEA) for pyrolysis technology along with an industry survey on global recycling are two additional tools to help advance the state-of-the-art and adoption of composites recycling. The mechanism for deploying a survey of this magnitude is augmented through the process of mapping composites organizations, groups and institutes and establishing relationships to best understand the sources of and opportunities for scrap and EOL composites throughout the supply chain, regional proximity of materials and affiliated entities, barriers to use of repurposed fibers and market opportunities for exploration. As global cooperation begins to unfold, achieving the best logistical model for cradle-to-cradle sustainability will incorporate minimized shipping and handling fees as the survey will effectively monitor the most cost-effective pathways for returning scrap and EOL composites into industrial applications and the global supply chain, substantially downsizing the volume of materials that are directed to landfill.

About ACMA: The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) is the world’s largest composites industry trade group. We serve our members and the industry by promoting the competitive advantage and versatility of composite materials. ACMA offers composites industry educational resources through our CAMX show, conferences and Certified Composites Technician (CCT®) program. We develop standards and specifications that drive preference for the use of composites in place of traditional materials. We lead advocacy efforts via legislative and regulatory channels to achieve a more viable composites industry. Together, we are shaping the future of composites. Learn more at www.acmanet.org.

About IACMI: The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), managed by the Collaborative Composite Solutions Corporation (CCS), is a partnership of industry, universities, national laboratories, and federal, state and local governments working together to benefit the nation’s energy and economic security by sharing existing resources and co-investing to accelerate innovative research and development in the advanced composites field. CCS is a not-for-profit organization established by The University of Tennessee Research Foundation. The national Manufacturing USA institute is supported by a $70 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, and over $180 million committed from IACMI’s partners. Find out more at IACMI.org.
Please contact Dan Coughlin, ACMA, at [email protected] if you would like to join the effort or need additional information.