What is it about?

This study proposes a sustainable disposal route for recycling epoxy bio – composites, based on flax fibers, through a chemical recycling process. In this way, it was possible to obtain a re – usable recycled product by promoting a circular economy approach. In this sense, the bio – composites were manufactured by exploiting a ‘design for recycling’ approach, so making them fully – recyclable. Then, a re – use strategy for the recycled product was identified by following a ‘design from recycling’ path.

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Why is it important?

The global epoxy composites market size was valued at 28.4 billion of dollars and it is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8.3% by 2028. This is due to a rapid replacement of conventional materials with epoxy composites in many different fields of application, such as automotive, marine, aerospace, energetic and sports. However, even concerns for their non recyclability is growing more and more. So, looking for sustainable solutions to enable full recycling of the epoxy matrices is becoming a primary importance issue. The results presented in our paper highlight the importance of finding novel solutions relying on a circular economy approach that, starting from bio-based materials allowed the production of fully sustainable and re-usable composites.

Perspectives

This study reflects the possibility to manufacture bio-composites made of natural fibers, i.e. flax fibers, which are fully – recyclable, in addition to show very good thermo – mechanical properties. In this context, a recycling and upcycling process was developed to successfully exploit their end-of-life management. The recovery of resins and fibers was implemented in a way that made them reusable for similar processing cycle. In a future perspective our approach will lead to the unique possibility to recover natural fabrics too.

Lorena Saitta
Universita degli Studi di Catania

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This page is a summary of: Characterization of biobased epoxy resins to manufacture eco‐composites showing recycling properties, Polymer Composites, October 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/pc.27095.
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