UA develops a world pioneering technology to recycle structures made up of fibreglass
Every year, 150,000 tonnes of different types of fiberglass waste are deposited in European Union landfills.These materials are commonly used in the naval, automotive or aeronautical industry as well as in sports equipment where elements with soft forms and high resistance are necessary
Alicante. Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Finding an optimal solution for reusing fibreglass and resin parts was, so far, a challenge. In fact, researchers in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and the University Institute of Materials at the University of Alicante have patented a method that allows the recovery of fibres of this type of materials to be reused. The designed process is not aggressive with fibreglass as it is developed at room temperature and manages to recover the entire compound.
Fibreglass and resin materials are widely used in the nautical industry for the construction of boat helmets, tanks or propellers, in the automotive or aeronautical industry and in the manufacture of wind turbine blades where the use of highly resistant soft-shape elements is necessary.
Also, they are present in the construction of buildings, bridges, pipes, insulation, railings, etc. and it is only recently that they have been used as compounds for sports equipment such as skis, surfboards, canoes, poles, bows, etc.
That is why, "the scope of the technology developed is an important innovation because there was no effective method to recover these structures for the construction of new pieces so far," as explained by UA professor in Inorganic Chemistry Agustín Bueno.
In fact, according to Befesa Medio Ambiente, an international company specialising in integrated waste management, "150,000 tonnes of different types of fibreglass waste are deposited in European Union landfills".
In this regard, Prof. Bueno points out that the system devised by the University of Alicante researchers is an ideal method to recycle the huge volume of material that is withdrawn daily in the world, especially recreational watercraft, which poses a considerable environmental hazard".
Once the life cycle of a boat, wind turbine or airplane is ended, by means of a chemical process, it is possible to completely separate the resin from the fibre under mild conditions of pressure and temperature, so that the material does not get degraded and can be reused for the manufacture of new objects.
Fibreglass is also very profitable economically since the energy cost of the chemical process is low.