Regeneration of the performance of glass fibre recycled from End-of-life composites or glass fibre waste: Presentation & Abstract

James Thomason, Eduardo Saez Rodriguez, Liu Yang, Chih-Chuan Kao, Peter Jenkins

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The disposal of end-of-life composite products in an environmentally friendly manner is one of the most important challenges facing the industry and community. In this presentation we will introduce two recently initiated EPSRC funded projects focussed on the cost effective recycling of end-of-life glass fibre composites from automotive and wind energy applications. The ultimate goal of these projects is to enable cost-effective regeneration of the mechanical properties of glass fibres which have been produced from thermal recycling of glass reinforced structural composites. This project has the potential to totally transform the economics of recycling GRP composites which would otherwise most likely be disposed of to landfill. A breakthrough in this field will enable such recycled fibres to compete with pristine materials in many large volume composite applications. The development of an economically viable process for regenerating the properties of thermally recycled glass fibres would have major technological, societal, economic, environmental impacts. Conservative estimates indicate that there is a potential to generate a global industry with an annual production of 1 million Tons of reusable regenerated glass fibres with a market value order of magnitude of £1,000M. The reuse of these materials could result in a huge reduction in the environmental impact of the glass-fibre industry where the replacement of pristine glass fibre products would equate to a global reduction in CO2 production of 400,000 Tons/annum from reduced melting energy requirements alone. Furthermore, such a technological development would also reduce the need for an annual landfill disposal of 2 million Tons of composite materials. These developments would clearly be in line with the growing societal and environmental pressure to reduce the use of landfill disposal, increase the reuse of valuable raw materials resources, and reduce the release of CO2 to the atmosphere.

The results of a study of the properties of glass fibres after thermal conditioning will be presented. The mechanical performance of rovings and single fibres of well-defined silane sized and unsized E-glass fibre samples was investigated at room temperature after thermal conditioning at temperatures up to 600°C. Thermal conditioning for only 15 minutes led to strength degradation of greater than 80% at higher temperatures. The room temperature strength of silane coated fibres was relatively stable up to 300°C but exhibited a precipitous drop at higher conditioning temperatures. Unsized fibres exhibited an approximately linear decrease in strength with increasing conditioning temperature. The results as discussed in terms of the changes in surface coating and bulk glass structure during heat conditioning.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2013
EventDesign for the End of Life of Fibre Reinforced Composite Materials Conference - Chesterfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Sept 201325 Sept 2013


ConferenceDesign for the End of Life of Fibre Reinforced Composite Materials Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • glass fibre
  • end of life composites
  • composite materials
  • glass fibre waste
  • recycling & reuse of materials


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