In a Nutshell
The VIBES project presents an innovative solution to resolve the end-of-life issues of thermoset composite materials, based on the development of a new green technology, focused on the controlled separation and recovery of composite material components by means of developing customised biobased bonding materials (BBM).
VIBES is a research & innovation project, with a duration of 48 months and a budget of almost 5.3 million Euros, funded by Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI – JU) under the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
The use of composite materials has gained interest in recent years due to their properties such as high mechanical strength, good chemical resistance and long durability, as well as great lightness and corrosion resistance. Their properties make them very attractive for advanced engineering applications in many industrial sectors, such as aeronautics, automotive, construction, marine and naval, energy, sports, electronics etc.
However, the end-of-life of thermoset composites in particular poses a technical difficulty due to their inherent complexity, generating plastic waste. Currently most of the thermoset composite waste is not properly recycled and it is either incinerated (42.6%) or diverted to landfill (24.9%). Industrial needs for high performance materials have increased the use of composite materials, so there is a need to develop and ensure a systematic circular ecosystem for these materials as a priority in Europe, in order to be able to contribute to the EU’s 2050 long-term strategy for a climate-neutral Europe.
The VIBES project will develop and demonstrate a new, greener, cost-efficient, and non-toxic recycling technology solution that aims to decrease the amount of non-biodegradable polymers sent to disposal or discharged to the environment by at least 40%. Once this technology has been optimised and scaled-up to a pilot semi-industrial environment, the products obtained from the new recycling process will return to the market by means of their valorisation as new feedstocks for different chemicals or building blocks and by upcycling into new industrial products.
Benefits will be significant in terms of growth, increasing jobs and turnover by promoting two new industrial sector interconnections in the newly created “Intrinsic Recyclable Thermoset Composites Value Chain” (between waste management and biotechnology sectors; between thermoset composites and biotechnology sectors).
Green Chemistry Recycling Solution
The VIBES consortium is comprised of 13 partners across 7 EU member states (Spain, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Greece): 3 Research & Technology Organisations, 1 University, 7 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, 1 Large Company and 1 Public Body.SEE THE PARTNERS