The impetus behind the project is the EU’s Green Deal, which is aimed at achieving climate neutrality by 2050. A critical contribution to the implementation of the EU’s strategy is the recycling of plastics, including a push for the use of high levels of plastic recyclates in new products. Functionally integrated lightweight construction with a significant proportion of polymer-based materials is already playing a key role in CO2 reductions in the mobility sector. Incorporating recyclates in lightweight structures can significantly expand these potential reductions even more by reducing the use of primary raw materials and the associated emissions.
There have, however, been major reservations about the recycling potential of composites, such as the fibre-reinforced thermoplastics used in structurally relevant lightweight components. In particular, existing mechanical recycling processes are not able to successfully separate the composites from each other. It is still uncertain whether the shredded material can be directly used as a recyclate or whether the material composite must be completely dissolved. As a manufacturer of shredding technology, Vecoplan contributes its many years of expertise with the aim of processing the material in such a way that it can be fed directly into the downstream processes.The Gabriela consortium project will study the recyclability of automotive supplier Kautex Textron’s Pentatonic high-voltage battery housings. Plastic recyclate proportions of up to 100% will be evaluated. APK AG’s new adaptive recycling technology Newcycling®, which enables the production of high-quality recyclates, will be one of the technologies used in the project. As part of the project, the entire life cycle of a fibre-reinforced plastic battery housing will be examined, from material production to initial fabrication, through ageing during use, to recycling, and finally to reuse in the same component. To optimally exploit the potential of the new recycling paths, industry partners representing all stages of the production process and three German universities are participating in the project. For APK AG, the focus is on the application of their Newcycling® solvent-based recycling technology to fibre-reinforced thermoplastics as well as the optimisation of the regranulate for reuse in battery housings. Collaboration with the research network “Platform FOREL” will enable the participating researchers to network across industries, facilitating the development of recycling options that are both scientifically and economically optimal.
The Gabriela research and development project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) as part of the Lightweight Construction Technology Transfer Programme (TTP LB) and supervised by the Jülich Project Management Organisation (PTJ). Responsibility for the content of this release lies with the author.
Project start: 1 July 2022
Duration: 3 years