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Research on chemical recycling of composites used in wind turbines and the aeronautics sector will breathe new life into the ceramics industry

The transport industry is currently the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the electric power industry. It is therefore necessary to use lighter structures such as composite materials to help reduce these emissions. However, using these materials involves the intrinsic challenge of waste management, given that recycling them is very complex. To understand the dimension of this problem, it is estimated that ten thousand aircraft will be withdrawn from service all over the world in the next twenty years and half of Europe’s wind turbine installed capacity of 146 GW will be twenty years old by 2030.

In order to address this issue, AIMPLAS and ITC, the Institute of Ceramic Technology, are developing the EROS Project, aimed at implementing a real circular economy system by recycling wind turbine blades and waste from the aeronautics sector and recovering them so they can be returned to the production process and used in transport and other sectors, such as the ceramics industry.

Mechanical and chemical recycling processes such as solvolysis and pyrolysis will be performed to produce three new products: glass fibre, carbon fibre and glycols. Glass fibre will be applied in the form of ceramic supports, frits and glazes to reduce the tile firing temperature. Inks will be manufactured with the glycols and carbon fibre will be used to make sustainable composites for the transport sector.

Also participating in the project are the companies RECICLALIA, KERABEN, FRITTA and SOFITEC to ensure that the results reach the entire value chain.

This project falls within the framework of the national Retos Colaboración call and is funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.