Recycled car part

Project Fieldlab Recycling of Thermoplastic Composites

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Brightlands Materials Center hosts a new experimental development center for recycling of thermoplastic composites.

The fieldlab project Recycling of Thermoplastic Composites is a collaboration between R&D center Brightlands Materials Center TNO and the companies Polytec, PP Recycling, Smile Again, Alligator, Plastica, Kedu Polymers, VKB International, Verbi, KS Consulting and ENBI Plastics. The project has been initiated by Brightlands Materials Center TNO and takes place from 2019 to 2022. The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the provinces of Limburg and Zeeland under the OPZuid program.

Background
One of the biggest challenges facing the world is reducing raw material consumption and CO2 emissions. Recycling thermoplastic materials is a good opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions.

In the near future European Legislation (End-of-Life Vehicles Directive 2005/64/EC) will enforce car manufacturers to construct a car in such a way that a minimum of 85% by mass should be recyclable.

  • End-of-Life Directive is already in force as of September 18, 2009.
  • The latest amendment is of March 2020 and is being evaluated every 3 year. With the European Green Deal it is expected that the evaluations will be more strict (expected before 2025).

Totally 6.1 million passenger cars and light goods vehicles were scrapped in the EU in 2018.

  • Roughly 18% of a car consists of plastics, where an average car weighs 1300 kg.
  • Hence more than a billion kg of plastics have to be recycled according to the Directive.

Activities
The first activity is to build a thermo-mechanical recycling Fieldlab in which the recycled material can be processed. This Fieldlab is mainly located at the Brightlands Materials Center.

The second activity is to improve the properties and thus the value of the recycled materials. Both the material and the business chain are being built up in this Fieldlab. Through the collaboration of all partners, the entire chain of development of recycled thermoplastic composites (TPC) parts, via collection, separation, reduction, compounding, granulate, design and new application, is covered.

Used materials are processed to create a new, basic raw material known as recycled long fiber thermoplastic composite (reLFT). Hereby, the new technology enables to convert material waste into a valuable resource which can be used to produce new parts like a new dashboard for instance.

Main technical challenges:
The technical challenge in processing TPC waste into reLFT is to limit the fiber breakage in the processing, since mainly the fiber length determines the properties. Work is mainly being done on PP glass fiber, because this is by far the most widely used material in the various sectors.

  • Controlled size reduction.
  • Material development; additives; material characterization.
  • Interaction matrix/fiber.

Based on the developed long fiber granules, new products are designed, molds are made and parts are realized and tested.

  • New extruder concept (development of extruder knowledge + machine building).
  • Tool development.

The project increases the understanding the relationship between processing (compounding, injection molding) and fiber length and material properties.

For further information please contact Aike Wypkema: Aike.Wypkema@tno.nl

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