Recyclable basalt plastic for automotive being developed in Europe

Recyclable basalt plastic for automotive basalt fiber
Credit: pixabay

A new research project C2CC (Cradle-to-Cradle Composites) is carried out with the goal to develop innovative composite materials based on basalt fiber and bio-resin for the automotive industry.  

They want to make lightweight, low-cost and recyclable products. Moreover, C2CC offers raw materials and develops technological processes able to make recycling at the end of the product life cycle easier, more efficient and more economical.

The concept Cradle-to-Cradle means recycling or closed-loop production resulting in manufacturing original components of the composite.

During the recycling process, basalt plastic composite is separated into basalt fiber and matrix that are reused as components of the new composite.

EIT Raw Materials, the European raw materials association, allocated 1,317 million euro to finance the project. The association is authorized by the European Commission to promote research and solutions for the use of raw materials. 

ENEA agency is the project coordinator that operates in partnership with the FIAT Research Center. The main project demonstrator will be a fully recyclable composite body for Fiat 500 Abarth.

Currently, carbon fiber with epoxy resin are the most often used composite materials to produce luxury car bodies. However, their recycling doesn’t lead to extraction of the materials suitable for re-production of the same components. In this project, we will replace carbon fiber with basalt because it is recyclable and retains original qualities. Thus, we will demonstrate how to recycle reinforcing fiber, which constitutes 60% of the body mass, in order to produce the original component,

explains Claudio Mingazzini, ENEA researcher and the head of the initiative.

As for polymer matrix, this project is going to prove that recycling doesn’t result in the material loss, and that the restored polymer can be used to manufacture car interior parts.

The international team intends to provide car manufacturers with ready-to-use technology (technology readiness level – TRL 7) by 2022.

The business plan considers the potential output of 100 thousand cars per year that will be recycled at the end of life cycle according to the Cradle-to-Cradle technology, that is, with zero waste.

Besides ENEA and CRF, the project participants include:

  • GAIKER, Spanish consortium for research and development of composite materials,
  • AM Composites,
  • University of Bordeaux,
  • GS4C,
  • R * Concept.

GS4C has long been actively promoting the idea of sustainable production using basalt fiber. The producer has recently entered into a partnership agreement with well-known yacht-builder Amer Yachts, which intends to replace glass with basalt fiber.

Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development (ENEA) also coordinated the development of basalt fiber reinforced ceramic composite, which resulted in BasKer material with high thermal, environmental and other properties.

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