RCA Engineering: Recycling composite materials in a circular plant


Composite materials: widely used but tricky to recycle.

Composite materials or polymer matrix composites are commonly used in sectors such as aeronautics, the automotive and shipping industries, high-level sports equipment and construction due to their mechanical and chemical properties.

The RCA Engineering team has designed a sustainable and circular process for recycling and reusing composite materials (based on glass and carbon fibre) from any sector, and opted for modular plants.

RCA Engineering has designed three modular plants with varying mechanical capacity (production capacity in tons/hour).

The modular system uses shipping containers, which can be put together quickly and at a reasonable cost. All models comprise two containers and one baseplate frame which provides a horizontal platform, meaning that the plant can operate on any type of surface.

The containers are assembled on a modular steel structure, meaning that the bottom container which stores the shredded material can be replaced easily once it is full.

The bottom container contains a vibrating hopper with a radar sensor. The container is equipped with two sliding gates: one for loading the hopper with the crushed and shredded material and the other for emptying it.

The upper container houses the machinery needed to process the composite materials. The process can be tailored to the final specifications, which vary depending on what the recycled material will be used for.

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Main results

Some of the advantages offered by this system:

  • Low energy costs of the process
  • Zero emissions and zero waste
  • Limited noise pollution
  • A one-stop shop solution supplied by a single company
  • Optimisation of operations: due to the modular design, implementation and start-up time are reduced
  • Cost reduction: about 30% compared to the construction of a traditional plant
  • Ideal for remote locations.