Article by the Editor PadovaOggi (PO) 29 January 2024
In the next 15 years, vehicle-renewal in the aviation sector will lead to the decommissioning of 15,000 aircraft. In the same timeframe, the automotive sector will have to make vehicles 85% of their weight ‘recyclable’. Millions of tonnes of material to be recycled. Huge quantities that the recycling industry can no longer handle today. The subject of the end-of-life of products and components is one of the most important challenges facing the entire production and consumption chain. Research can make a fundamental contribution. The Compass project, recently approved by the European Commission as part of the Horizon Europe Programme, goes precisely in this direction.
The EU research project with a budget of EUR 6 million will finance the development of tools and new technologies that can provide a second life to components of aeroplanes and road transport vehicles. The overall objective is to enable the regeneration of around 30% of sheet metal parts and thermoplastic composite panels.
The only Italian partner is the Venetian company NeroSuBianco, which, as Innovation Broker, will have the task of coordinating the entire process of disseminating research results: in practice, promoting technology transfer in Italian and European industry and the adoption of the new technologies tested during the programme. The Compass project provides funding of up to 70 per cent in R&D activities for the development and implementation of the regeneration process technology use cases studied in the project. The lead partner of Compass is the Austrian research organisation Profactor.
The need behind the project, which starts in January 2024 and will run for 3 years, is on the one hand to increase the efficiency of recycling and remanufacturing processes for sheet metal parts, and on the other hand to find a solution for large quantities of thermoplastic and/or fibre-reinforced materials, end-of-life components. In both cases, the proposed approach is to take a shortcut by remanufacturing components in situ, such as sheet metal and composite panels, instead of converting them into secondary raw material, achieved through (thermo)forming processes that allow parts and components to be remoulded to give them a second and third life.
These regeneration processes will be supported by a series of digital tools based on a digital component passport. The tools developed will enable efficient dismantling processes to extract plates or panels, e.g. from an aircraft, and will help to collect relevant information on components during their life. The project’s main use cases and demonstrators come from the aerospace and automotive sectors and include key players along the value chain. Using digital tools, it will be possible to optimise and track information on defects, rework or repairs carried out during the life of components.
The relevant legal framework is the European Directive 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 20008/98/EC on waste (Waste Directive): it introduces some provisions to improve the reuse and recycling of waste in the European Union to move towards a circular economy. Among the main innovations introduced by that directive is extended producer responsibility (EPR), i.e. a set of measures to ensure that producers are responsible – financially and organisationally – for the end-of-life management of the products they place on the market.
The full article in Italian can be read at this link