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QUADRAT DTP: Repurposing fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) composite waste for marine renewable energy

School of Natural and Built Environment

About the Project

The project aims to repurpose the fibre reinforced plastic (FRP), the waste from decommissioning wind turbine blades and GRP (glass reinforced plastic) boats. The marine FRP waste disposal and assessing the impact on the marine ecosystems is timely. A particular focus of the project is to explore and quantify the positive impacts of reuse of the FRP on the marine ecosystem. This waste management not only improves further development of the marine renewable industries by providing relatively cheap recycled material but also it helps marine ecosystems by reducing the release of waste in the environment. This improves the sustainability of decommissioning by ensuring that the energy used to develop components will be utilized fully at the end of their life. As the early wind farms are coming to the end of their fatigue design life, decommissioning in a sustainable manner is about to become a significant problem. The objective of this research is to investigate the recycling opportunities and find suitable and sustainable solutions to reuse the hundreds of thousands of tons of FRP waste from the wind and marine industries. By 2050, global annual blade waste will reach 2.9 Mt, with 43 Mt of cumulative blade waste. Also, the problem of end-of-life FRP boat disposal and management has taken global proportions with an increasing number of vessels needing management. At present the disposal options are burning the resin matrix to separate from the reinforcement, cutting to produce granular waste and burying in the landfill. All have significant energy and environmental consequences. This project will complement the re-purposing of FRP waste for land-based applications. With sustainability at the forefront of governmental agendas directed towards a greener, carbon-neutral future, a sustainable decommissioning plan must be put in place to promote a circular economy and reduce the levels of waste going to landfill. In the next decade, there will be a considerable number of wind farms reaching their End-of-Service-Life (EoSL) with thousands of tonnes of waste being created and needing to be managed. To enhance the decarbonisation agenda, the reuse of the marine industries composite waste can be reused to further develop the marine renewable energy industries, in line with governmental policies and global research objectives. Reuse of FRP for reinforcing cross-laminated timber and use of chopped FRP in a low pH concrete are other alternative solutions that would be investigated in the project. Such reuse would displace the use of virgin materials and reduce carbon emissions associated with refinement and production. FRP reuse would offer the potential to enhance the structural capacity, broadening the use case or allow existing load carry capacity to be maintained with lower material usage. Reused FRP low pH composites offer the potential for enhanced service life (particularly for marine installations), thus reducing the overall flow of materials through the marine energy industry and hence positive effects on the marine ecosystem. More project details are available here: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/projects/repurposing-fibre-reinforced-plastic-frp-composite-waste-for-marine-renewable-energy/

How to apply: https://www.quadrat.ac.uk/how-to-apply/

Please note: applications should be submitted directly to QUADRAT and not to Queen’s University Belfast.

Funding Notes

QUADRAT studentships are open to UK and international candidates (EU and non-EU). Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend/research & training support grant only.

Before applying please check full funding and eligibility information: View Website

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