In the first of four demonstration projects, Lineat Composites has enabled carbon fibre circularity by using its Aligned Formable Fibre Technology (AFFT) to re-align carbon fibre into highly aligned UD pre-preg tapes. Carbon fibre was reclaimed from scrap Wilson Labs prototypes and re-used in the manufacture of a new tennis racket manufacture to substitute 50% of virgin carbon fibre. The manufacturing and testing was successfully completed, opening a new circular re-use route for carbon fibre in sport components.
Carbon fibre is an extremely strong and stiff material but carries a high manufacturing burden. It is expensive to make and takes 10x as much energy to produce than steel. Over 90% of carbon fibre, however, ends up in landfill making it one of the most polluting single-use materials in the world. Sporting goods including marine industry is the third biggest user of carbon fibre by volume after aerospace and wind energy, with typical component life of less than 5 years.
Lineat has set-up the Circular Carbon Fibre Alliance (CCFA), partnering with World Sailing, to work towards more sustainable manufacturing solutions and collaborating with innovative sporting goods manufacturers Wilson, SCOTT Sports, Oneway and Starboard. The CCFA presented on World Environment Day that the first new AFFT material samples have been produced, ready for re-manufacturing work to be completed over the summer months.
Wilson, the US-based 100-year-old manufacturer of rackets and sporting goods, has already started testing their batch of AFFT tape, that is made from the fibres of a broken racket, to build a 50% recycled racket and initial results are very encouraging with the fact that specifications are within normal ranges.
Bill Severa, Global Innovation Director R & D – Racquet Technology at Wilson said: “What an exciting project to be involved with. This week we prototyped a tennis racket with 50% recycled carbon fibre. We just started play testing this racket with excellent results and we are very excited about the future working with Lineat and the CCFA.”
SCOTT Sports, the Swiss-based producer of bicycles, winter equipment and sportswear, will be building a ski prototype over the summer, made from realigned fibres from a SCOTT Sports bicycle frame. OneWay, part of the Fischer Sports, will be using AFT to build and test a ski pole, while Starboard, the manufacturer of boards will be building a paddle blade with the realigned fibres from a mast.
Quote from Gary Owen: We have been delighted with the response to CFCA’s Carbon Circularity Demonstration Project. The innovation together with manufacturers using re-aligned fibre tapes to build and test on equipment is a fantastic step forward for carbon fibre circularity. We are looking forward to continuing this work in Lineat on a bigger scale with our automated AFFT machine in our new site in Filton, UK.
In parallel, the Alliance will be assessing all elements involved in the manufacture of AFFT to ensure that the process follows a strict circularity model from equipment collection, breakdown and reclamation of carbon fibre equipment to the production processes for the AFFT tape.
“Our ambition with the Alliance is that we work with Sports federations, manufacturers and advisors to ensure that we operate within a circular economy model. With sport already the third largest user of carbon fibre, and this due to increase particularly in high performance sport in the coming years, we need to apply a circularity mindset.
We are very grateful for the support from the equipment manufacturers that form part of this Alliance. With today’s World Environment Day’s theme of ‘Only One Earth’, it is only by working collectively that we can make a real change and address the real challenge of end-of-life carbon fibre.” Comments Dee Caffari, Chair of the World Sailing Trust, the charitable organisation that is running the Alliance with its partners from the IOC, IBU, IFT, World Sailing and UCI.