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Recycling progress for high-end composites

Photo: Aluula Enviro

A Canadian specialist in composite materials used in advanced applications is working with research scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to develop recycling solutions.

Aluula Composites manufactures ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), a plastic which combines toughness, low friction coefficient, high impact strength, and low density. It delivers eight times the strength-to-weight ratio of steel, while being lighter than nylon or polyester. Aluula’s core focus is windsports, outdoors, sailing, and aerospace.

No glueing

Traditionally, such composite materials are made by gluing together different layers and outer films to create fabrics for use in a wide range of product applications. Using a patented fusion process, the Canadian innovator fuses fibres and technical films together without glue. It says the process not only creates extremely light, strong, and durable fabrics but materials that are ‘recycle ready’.

An initial project with the Composites Research Network at UBC Vancouver established the ability to compress off-cuts and end-of-life products into uniform, lightweight and durable panels. Because the UHMWPE fibres of the original materials are kept intact, the panels are said to be ten times stronger than those moulded from virgin UHMWPE. The panels can be used in a range of applications from backpack support to low friction wear plates.

‘Aluula has proven that sustainability and astounding performance can coexist without compromise,’ says company coo John Zimmerman.

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