New partners Coventry and Warwick University hosted the month 24 meeting of the ECOBULK partners at Scarman Conference Center in Coventry, UK. The main focus was on finalising the plans and ambitions for the real-life demonstrations that are due to begin.

In this newsletter:

  1. Project Updates
  2. Coventry, Cars And Circular Economy
  3. Serious Circular Gaming
  4. Events
ECOBULK M24 Progress Bar

Project Update

The baseline value chain for each sector was established and then used analyse the implications of circularity.

The main thrust of the last few months has been the definition of the demonstrations as complete circular chains. Oakdene Hollins and TUDelft have been helping our demo partners find ways of implementing circular business and design solutions that integrate their whole value chain.

Read more

Coventry, Cars and Circular Economy

The innovative heart of the British auto industry is still beating. ECOBULK partners recently gathered in Coventry, home of hydrogen cars pioneer MicroCab and our two new demonstration partners Warwick and Coventry University, to talk about the challenges of increasing circularity in the auto industry.

Read  more

Partners enjoyed a tour of the MicroCab facilities in Coventry.

Seriously Circular Gaming

Partner FCBA has been thinking about how to help companies become more circular. Sometimes companies will be inspired by new ideas and possibilities, other times they need to consider technical challenges, and always they will have to take into account the business models will have to be adapted to a circular value chain. At the  Ecobulk meeting in Coventry, FCBA gave the partners a chance to play test their new educational game.

Read more

Events

Coming Up:

  1. PLATE 2019 – TUDelft will present their design strategy framework as well as results from workshops in ECOBULK at the Product Lifetimes and the Environment conference in Berlin;
  2. AMI WTBM 2019 – Conenor will be presenting its work on re-manufacturing GFRP waste at the annual wind industry in Germany this December;
  3. ISWA World Congress 2019 – ECOBULK project presentation and promotion in October 2019 in Bilbao;
  4. POLYCHAR – partner IPCB-CNR will organise the 27th Polychar conference in October 2019 in Naples;

Past Events:

  1. EcoComp 2019 – partner Coventive co-organised the conference and presented their work on circular composite materials at the event
    TUDelft was also there to talk about design for circularity;
  2. ITMA 2019 – partner Next Technology represented their work and contributions to Ecobulk at this latest edition of the Textile & Garment Technology Exhibition in Barcelona;

The innovative heart of the British auto industry is still beating.

Coventry is the traditional home of the British automotive industry. The industry reached its peak around 1950, when the UK was the second-largest car manufacturing country of the world. At this time there were 12 manufacturers in Coventry including then household names such as Rover, Jaguar and BMC (makers of the Mini) and it became known as the British Detroit. The size of the industry may have declined, but the knowledge has remained.  Coventry is emerging as a research centre with the opening of the National Automotive Innovation Centre as well as current expansion plans from JLR. In the midst of all this, ECOBULK gathered to finalise their plans to demonstrate the circular composite materials and prototypes that have been developed in the last 2 years.

MicroCab is one of the companies in Coventry working to rethink the car as a sustainable mode of transport for the future. Their vision is based on hydrogen fuel cells replacing the internal combustion engine and tailoring the design of the car to be highly efficient in its expected use. Within the ECOBULK consortium, they are pioneering a leasing business model that would allow them to maintain ownership of the car and sell mobility as a service. Following the circular philosophy, they are creating a modular design that fits with a regular maintenance schedule that exchanges parts, not just for maintenance, but also as an opportunity to modernise and upgrade the user experience over the multi-decade life of the car.

Maintaining ownership of the vehicle, MicroCab envisions various new opportunities that would allow them to increase the lifespan of the cars as well as the possibilities of re-using parts. The cars they design are highly efficient for their targeted use, but as we all well know, people’s use and expectations of a product are constantly changing. As the usage mode of the car changes, MicroCab will be able to switch out parts and make the car adaptable to the changing market needs without having to junk an old car or produce a whole new one.

Large fragment ELV shredder sample
Small fragment ELV shredder fraction

Recycling is a growing issue with end of life vehicles, particularly in light of the increasing demands from governments to achieve higher re-use and recycling rates. At the end of life, a car is first stripped of any valuable major parts that are easily taken out. But after that, it is shredder time. The shredded particles are then separated out to Ferrous and Non-Ferrous metals, with a large mix of materials left over. The left-over materials contain a lot of plastics, but separating plastics, and in particular different types of plastics, can be quite difficult. However, with recycling targets now set at a minimum of 85%, this can only be possible by recycling these after-shredding plastics. TOMRA has been working together with Bellver and AIMPLAS to demonstrate the possibilities to to sort out these plastics in a way that is useful to recycling.

Interior fascia parts to be made with mixed plastic composites salvaged from ELV plastic waste.

Meanwhile partners FIAT and MAIER are getting to grips with the challenge of incorporating the salvaged plastics into internal car parts using composite materials. One of the core circular principles is to simplify and separate both parts and materials at the design stage to enable better re-use and re-cycling options at the end of life stage. However, vehicles reaching the end-of-life stage tend to be between 10 and 20 years old, which means that changes in design would only start affecting the availability of recycled materials at least 10 years from the start of production. To maintain the core practical demonstration purpose of the project, they will have to prove how they can take a large mix of plastic waste from 10 year old cars, and integrate it as efficiently as possible into the production of new parts. While designing to use mixed plastics might sound decidedly un-circular, it is perhaps the only practical demonstration that takes into account the fact that the automotive industry will always have to deal with design and material choices from at least a decade ago.

Partner ITENE hosted the month 18 meeting of the ECOBULK partners at their offices in Valencia, Spain. The partners participated in workshops and  shared their progress. The meeting focused on refining the prototype designs, discussing material developments, and preparing for the demonstrations due to be deployed by the end of 2019.

In this newsletter:

  1. Project Updates
  2. Business Model Workshops
  3. Materials Development
  4. ECOBULK – The Movie
  5. Events
ECOBULK Progress Bar M18

Project Update

The new online Fastener Finder database

 

The project is wrapping up the Circular Design Framework and a number of related deliverables, including the Fastener Finder by TUDelft and the Materials Explorer by Granta Design. Both these systems will be helping designers and manufacturers to make more circular choices for their products and materials.

Read more about the project updates.

 

Business Model Workshops

Partners took part in a new round of workshops to further refine the prototype concepts and designs, this time focusing on the business model innovation. Workshop leaders Oakdene Hollins and TUDelft created an iterative role play process to elicit expectations and requirements from the stakeholders in the circular chain.

Read more about the workshops.

Stakeholder Role Play at the Workshops

Materials Development

Coventive’s pultrusion based LFT pellets

Partners shared their progress and samples, now being tested and refined, to be used in the prototypes being developed by the product partners. Among these, Coventive talked about their efforts to develop first natural fibre, and now carbon fibre, LFT pellets. Their research progression, leading up to the practical implementation of their knowledge and processes for ECOBULK, was shared recently at the Long-Fibre Thermoplastics 2018 conference in Berlin. The work on recycled carbon fibre drew considerable interest from members of the automotive industry in the audience.
Read more about Coventive’s LFTs.

ECOBULK – The Movie

To mark the M18 transition into the prototype and demonstration phase, an ECOBULK promotional video was produced that explains the project and planned demonstrations. The video premiered at the project’s presentation at Ecomondo in November, and is now available online.

Events

ECOBULK has been getting around the last few months:

  • TEDx, SWARM – MICROCAB discussed and promoted the ECOBULK project during the SWARM conference and their TEDx talk in October 2018.
  • Ecomondo, November 2018 – The project, the new video and the furniture prototypes were presented at the ISWA stand, with the help of partners Exergy, KEAS, Moretti Compact and NTT (read more…)
  • Modern Composite Solutions – Conenor visited the event in Finland in November 2018 and promoted the project (read more…).
  • Ecofira (Valencia) and CONAMA (Madrid) – AIMPLAS promoted the project at these events.

Coming up:

  • AMI Wind Turbine Manufacture – Conenor and TUDelft are presenting their research into solutions for recycling turbine blades in December 2018 in Dusseldorf.
  • EcoComp – Coventive will be co-hosting this event and promoting their work on ECOBULK in June 2019 in Coventry.
  • ISWA World Congress 2019 – ECOBULK presentation and promotion in October 2019 in Bilbao.
  • POLYCHAR – IPCB-CNR will organise the 27th Polychar conference in October 2019 in Naples

Meet us at one of the upcoming events!

Brussels, 28th November 2018: The MultiCycle project held a successful kick-off meeting in Brussels on 28th November. This new three-year EC Horizon 2020 Innovation Action will deliver an industrial recycling pilot plant for thermoplastic-based multi-materials allowing selective recovery of pure plastics and fibres from mixed wastes without downgrading as a key enabling step towards the realization of a circular plastics economy.

Plastics deliver value through convenient, versatile and lightweight consumer products and advanced performance in high end applications but, as the environmental consequences of single-use, linear plastics consumption have hit our screens, public perceptions of plastics are currently at an all-time low. Less than a third of plastic packaging is currently recycled due to technological and economic limitations, and a mind-set that undervalues plastics as a single use commodity.

EU PLASTICS STRATEGY

In its recently published Plastics Strategy the European Commission sets out a vision for “A smart, innovative and sustainable plastics industry, where design and production fully respect the needs of reuse, repair, and recycling, brings growth and jobs to Europe and helps cut EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels.” The vision refers to cost-effective recycling, an expanded European recycling capacity, and a more integrated plastics value chain where the chemicals industry works closely with plastics recyclers to identify wider and higher value applications for recycled materials.

MultiCycle will make a significant contribution towards realizing this EC’s vision, stopping resource depletion, landfilling and incineration of valuable resources and demonstrating the shift to a circular economic model in two important industrial segments – multilayer packaging / flexible films and fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites in the automotive sector.

The project is based upon the Fraunhofer IVV patented CreaSolv(R) process, which will be taken to pilot scale and digitised for industrial readiness. CreaSolv(R) is a selective, solvent-based extraction process which allows recovery of pure plastics and fibres from mixed wastes without downgrading. Subsequent processing and formulation of recovered materials into valuable products will also be optimized, and the project will evaluate the environmental, social and economic sustainability and techno-economic-environmental feasibility of the proposed developments. As well as recommendations for future upscaling, MultiCycle will produce policy recommendations promoting waste management and resource efficiency improvements for the target packaging and automotive applications.

The 9.7M€ MultiCycle project is supported by 7.7M€ of funding awarded under the 2018 CE-SPIRE 10 Efficient recycling processes for plastic containing materials call. SPIRE is a contractual Public-Private Partnership dedicated to innovation in resource and energy efficiency enabled by the process industries. The project consortium involves 19 partners from 10 countries across Europe. It combines solid science with industrial and commercial involvement across the plastics value chain, and includes research and technology organisations, polymer and fibre producers/recyclers, specialist compounders, manufacturers and converters, along with specialists in life cycle analyses and activities to ensure project dissemination, exploitation and impact. Together they comprise an eco-system uniting the infrastructure, knowledge, expertise, services and industry value chain needed to deliver on the project’s goals and contribute towards both the SPIRE and the broader EU sustainability objectives.