As the end of the project draws near, it is time to give you a quick update on the latest developments of the project. The demonstrators have been fully developed and tested, and despite the pandemic most of them have also been deployed to their demonstration and use locations. Each partner has contributed to the success of the Ecobulk circular design for composites material mission. Most visible are those building and deploying the new circular prototypes, but there are also a lot of less visible contributions to the enabling technologies, materials and information necessary to re-design products that fit in a circular chain.
In this newsletter:
ECOBULK is demonstrating that re-using, refurbishing, and recycling composite products is possible, profitable, and sustainable. The best way to do this is to lead by example, and so composite products were re-designed in the furniture, automotive and building sectors; please read on below to find the latest news and state of their development.
Our partners Maier, CRF and Microcab have been developing new prototype interior car parts that incorporate circular design aspects. While they have all chosen to work on central console components, they have taken slightly different paths and approaches.
CRF originally identified a possible 10% savings from using recycled materials, but their lower material properties would require a redesign of the moulds to compensate with increased thickness. This change would make it only viable on new products, and it could not be used in existing ones. Instead, CRF chose to test the use of bio-based plastics in its re-design of components, using materials supplied by Tecnaro and Coventive. Both materials have performed well so far in testing.
Microcab have focused on parts for their Vianova hydrogen vehicle. They have created a modular ‘switchpack’ which they envision using within a lease model that will have a controlled schedule of parts maintenance and refurbishment that will keep the vehicle running for 20 years. The switchpack utilises long fibre composites from Coventive, and Microcab have also implemented other dashboard highlights with materials from Tecnaro.
Moretti chose to develop a modular furniture system, focusing on the fact that this would allow a longer lifespan as the user reconfigures or replaces damaged parts as necessary. To do this they have been through several iterations of design and testing. Through this process they have chosen a new metal fastener to connect the modules and parts that offers a simple and solid construction while keeping assembly and dis-assembly relatively easy. They have also updated their upholstery to avoid using adhesives or Velcro the like previous version – they now have a sleeve design that just slides into place. The seat panels are mounted using a screw that goes through a slot perforated on the particle board for fixing.
The particle board being used for the furniture is produced in cooperation with KEAS and utilizes innovative eco-binder formulations developed by partners Akzo and Cranfield. The particle boards can be made with 100% waste content, and up to 50% particleboard waste while still maintaining good material properties and very low formaldehyde emmissions. A non-formaldehyde based binder developed by Cranfield has also been tested and has shown similar promising results.
Interesting results were also obtained from research into user acceptance and preferences with regards to recycled materials. A test was conducted where 3 sofas of varying design were fitted with regular padding materials on the left and recycled padding on the right. Respondents were separated into 2 groups – one that was informed of the recyceld materials and one that was not. While both groups reported the recycled side as less comfortable, the one that knew it was recycled reported it as significantly less uncomfortable than the group that did not. This implies that users may have an increased tolerance for recycled materials whose properties do not match virgin materials.
For the construction sector, the demonstrators for the outdoor shelters and benches have been built. This includes the shelters for Warwick University, Coventry and the ones for Lipor.
Some adjustments had to be made to the original designs to accomodate the new materials. The ongoing pandemic issues have limited the exposure of users to the shelters, so results on user perceptions are still pending.
FCBA conducted tests on chairs and benches made from the GFRP waste materials. In general they performed well, though again some adjustments to the original design were necessary to reinforce the longer planks.
FCBA further conducted tests on modular timber frame wall units incorporating the materials in the inner layers. The results show that the thermal conductivity remains the same as with standard inner layers, but there was a significant decrease in the moisture transfer with the composites working as a vapour barrier on the interior side. This could make it interesting for rooms with high humidity as this would avoid moisture accumulating in the timber.
Design Circular Redux
TUDelft has delivered a new version of the Design Circular Guidelines.
This new report contains an update on the design guidelines based on further investigation and interviews with experts, as well as a comprehensive analysis of their application in the re-design of the Ecobulk demonstrator products. It does not replace the previous report, but complements it with new information and insights.
In short, if you are looking for an in-depth discussion on the link between circular strategies and design aspects for circularity in composite products, the Report on Design Strategies and Tools remains an invaluable resource. For a more practical discussion on the application, and specifically examples of how the guidelines were used for the Ecobulk demonstrators, then please download and be inspired by the new Design Strategies and Tools document.
Both are available for download below, and in our Deliverables section.
The Road to Standardisation
Earlier this year project partner UNE expertly guided the consortium in the process to develop and produce a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA). These represent a consensus agreement based on an open workshop where subject matter experts examine the proposed specifications, and can be a step to further standardisation efforts in the future.
Ecobulk submitted and proposed two CWAs based on the work done specifically for Design for Circularity and Composite Recovery in the Automotive Industry.
CWA17806:2021: Design Circular Framework Setting. Composite recovery design solutions in the automotive industry
CWA17807:2021: Dismantling methods and protocols in a Circular Economy Framework. Composite recovery in the automotive industry
With the publication of these two CWAs, the project has officially met its ambitious objectives concerning the contribution of the ECOBULK project to standardization.
Our thanks and congratulations to UNE and the partners involved in this effort for this great achievement.
Both CWAs are available for free dowload from the CENCENELEC site in the CWA Download Area.
Ecobulk at Ecomondo: Automotive focus at ISWA Booth
Also on the 27th of October, ISWA will be focusing on automotive applications of circular composite products. Ecobulk will be presenting with its partners CRF and NTT, and joining a panel discussion with other H2020 representatives from Multicycle, DECOAT and ALMA.
Read more here, or drop by the booth.
PRSE 2021 Amsterdam
Ecobulk will be represented at the Plastics Recycling Show Europe to be held in Amsterdam on the 4th and 5th of November. Together with another SPIRE project Multicycle they will present and discuss the projects.
Free registration to attend if you are in the neighbourhood.
End-of-Life Issues and Strategies 2021
Markku Vilkki from Conenor will be attending and presenting the work done in Ecobulk with windturbine material recycling.
WindEurope’s EoLIS 2021 is the event on End-of-Life Issues and Strategies topics of ageing wind farms. This in-depth seminar will tackle topics on life-time extension of wind farms, repowering, decommissioning and recycling.
Find out more.
The next and final consortium meeting will be held on the 19th of November. The partners will gather to discuss the final results and celebrate the projects successes. We will bring you an update from straight after the event!
Kassim Caratella from COVENTRY University attended the INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP
ON SMART CITY: WHERE TO BEGIN? as a keynote speaker. He covered the topic of
Circular Economy for the construction industry, outlining the current stance of Circular Economy and its uptake with the industry. The ECOBULK project was heavily highlighted as a project striving towards achieving Circular Economy success and encouraging the movement towards it with its innovation and developments.
Adrian Lopera Valle, from WARWICK University represented ECOBULK at webinar, part
of the Resonate Festival, organised by the University of Warwick and the City of
Coventry. He presented the ECOBULK solutions for modular furniture and light outdoor construction materials using discarded composites, both of which have been implemented at the university.
Markku Vilkki from CONENOR was also requested to participate and present in the 4th meeting of the Stakeholders’ group for the end-of-life recreational boats 14 June 2021, hosted by the European Commission Directorate for Maritime Affairs. The presentation was on “Converting composite plastic waste into circular recycled Materials and Products” as part of the more general discussion on Recycling Composites within the industry, since the CONENOR solutions used for the wind turbine blades is easily transferable to the boating industry that uses similar composites.
UPC has participated in the creation of the COTEC foundation report regarding the
situation of the circular economy in Spain. Both barriers and enabling conditions were
discussed in the fields of energy, construction, plastics, textile, water and agricultural
sectors. Findings from the ECOBULK project were presented and discussed, highlighting
important barriers and enablers and reaching conclusions regarding circular economy
implementation situation that will be included in the report.
MICROCAB exhibited at the City of Culture Transport Innovation Showcase at the Coventry Transport Museum as part of the UK City of Culture program which will run from mid 2021 to mid 2022. The MicroCab Vianova, which uses the parts created for it within ECOBULK is there, plus additional exhibits around Circular Economy, for example disassembled parts, ECOBULK materials etc.
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