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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Recycled Carbon Fibres Substitute for Natural Graphite & Industrial Applications

Objectives of the commitment

Main objective is to define, industrialize and bring to market a Recycling Process for CFRP (Carbon Fibres Reinforced Plastic) at diverse stages of life cycle (Scrap & End-of-Life parts) that represent a resource to substitute Industrial applications and Natural Graphite (NG), a Critical Raw Material currently imported for a portion exceeding 70%, (from a single Country: China), while CFRP Products are just disposed in Landfill.

This objective counts on intermediate targets, namely the screening of NG properties required by current applications, agreements with NG industry, detailed analysis of all applications in Transport, Energy and Retail sectors and finally the development of a recycling business model for CFRP waste at the most relevant sources, sorting for quality and supply availability.

The project includes the development of a production plant to satisfy the full EU needs of NG.

Description of the activities

The Project covers a period of seven year and the detailed description is focused on first two years of commitment.
High level of Innovation will be achieved by ensuring the production at industrial scale of a substitute for Natural Graphite from recycled CFRP.

The first set of activities is to establish a consolidated but flexible project management organization for the whole life of the project to ensure consistency and accomplishment of the objectives.

The Engineering Systems approach, matured in the Aerospace Industry, will be transferred to Recycling, hence allowing to define methodologies for the best processes, with the final target to guarantee that the resulting graphite substitute achieves the expected characteristics, including quality and availability of supply.

Same approach will ensure the best pilot and production plant design, ensuring flexibility during construction and in operation, through the set up of a modular design flexible enough to be escalated from lab-scale up to production plant size.
Consortium will guarantee to the market the required quantities depending on demand forecast and criticality of supply, taking into account the market evolution to be absorbed through the modular design, so to minimize the risk.

The Consortium will engineer, manage and optimize the entire recycling logistic and supply chain for the input CFRP material..
The success on this critical activity will allow achieving a sustainable and successful innovation, bringing the technological developments from the realm of research to the market. This activity requires a deep understanding of the logistics needed together with the skills and expertise to set up the supply chain, that the Consortium posses.
A preliminary assessment and mapping has already been carried out to ensure feasibility.

Furthermore, a deep understanding of the input material characteristics is mandatory.
Consortium will carry out laboratory tests based on a wide selection of samples from potential suppliers to determine the physical, chemical and macroscopic characteristics of the materials, as input for the subsequent processing phases.
Consortium incorporates actual manufacturer of Natural Graphite in order to define and standardize specification(s) for the desired output product(s) to meet current needs and to improve performance of existing materials.

Process core development will follow, with the final objective of delivering a full scale industrial plant (targeted to 50 K tons/yr).

A description of the first 2 years main activities includes:
a) Recycling Processes State of the Art assessment, currently ongoing;
b) Process parameters identification in order to apply the proven Selection Methodology and ensure the most suitable process in terms of performance, reliability, quality, output, energetic efficiency and environmental integration;
c) Lab-scale testing of the most promising technologies;
d) Pilot plant design.

Final achievement will be the Industrial Plant development and building, as well as process optimization, with focus on innovation and target to reach the market at Project deadline or in advance, as requested by investors and market itself.

The urgency to reach the market is suggested by the exponentially growth of CFRP demand, the increasing public repulsion to landfill, the actual economic dependency from import of Natural Graphite and the supply risk, requiring immediate action.

Business Plan is available and object of successful presentations and current negotiations with Private and Public Investors, proving the Business Model validity.

Description of the expected impacts

Security of supply of critical raw material for European industry:
European Graphite Consumption is around 70,000 tons per year. 70% of which is imported from China.
The Industrial Plant development targeted by the Project will be able to satisfy the EU needs of Natural Graphite, reducing or nullifying European Import Dependency of a Critical Raw Material.

Enhance Industry environmental sustainability:
the analysis of the whole CFRP products life cycle will allow to move from the actual non-sustainable practices (i.e.: landfilling of the manufacturing scrap) to the conversion of waste into a resource substituting graphite and bringing to market a performance-competitive recycled material for several other applications.
End-of Life Complex products will be converted into eco-designed products.

The Project will target Zero Waste by 2020 for CFRP products setting standards for Waste Management Industry and providing alternative to Landfill for end-of-life Materials

Improve EU competitiveness trough development of industrial technologies related to recycling of complex materials and products leading to European jobs creation:
Creating an innovative industrial process for the extraction of graphite from the CFRP waste through the transnational cooperation between the Industry, Research Centers, SME´s, Universities and clients.
This will result in the creation of technological knowledge, value, competitiveness and job development pushing Europe to the forefront in raw materials.

The Project will increase the integration between Consortium Partners, the transnational and cross-sectorial cooperation allowing a very high TRL; a matter of fact, Consortium target is clearly the Market.

The Business Model is fully scalable to every industry sector.

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: ITRBCountry: CyprusEntity profile: Private sector - SMERole within the commitment:

Project management and Systems Engineering
Supply chain
Plant Engineering
Product Manufacturing Engineering
Integration of activities among partners and follow up of the overall program as well as major role in supply chain set up, plant design and operations and marketing of resulting products.

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.


Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.


Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.


Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: No

Period to implement the commitment: from 14-04-2014 to 31-12-2020