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Rivierasca produces a new value-added circular material

Company description

Since 1963, Rivierasca S.p.A. has been producing fibreglass-reinforced polyester laminates. From the most varied possibilities of application of the traditional roll. The company offers solutions for a variety of applications in of civil, industrial, sports, agricultural and zootechnical coverage. From traditional It has moved from a huge variety solutions with traditional rolls, to special tops and the entire range of corrugated translucent sheets for roofing and infill, up to the most recent opaque sheets.

Challenges

One big issue in the high-volume continuous production of composite laminates is the amount of material that is wasted during the process, due to the shaping and the cutting of the edges. The wasted material is a sunk cost for the company, which pays for the raw material, and for its disposal. For this reason, Rivierasca decided to invest in R&I activities to generate a business opportunity from its own waste. Considering that production waste is still a big challenge for any company producing thermoset composite, Rivierasca is leading by example in this context and it is aiming to spread this result across composite industry.

Project highlights

Glebanite is a new way of thinking and designing towards circular economy.
Rivierasca developed Glebanite, a material made out from the industrial waste of the GFRP (Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic) laminates lines. The material, obtained by shredding GFRP waste and mixing it with resins and virgin glass fibres is fiberglass recycled into GFRP again. It has been developed in years of research, and demonstrates to have both good mechanical and aesthetic properties.
Rivierasca has developed 7 different technologies (one of which is patented) to reprocess grinded scraps. Thanks to these technologies, Rivierasca has demonstrated different creative and industrial uses of Glebanite. In 2017 Rivierasca became partner in the H2020 FiberEUse project that is boosting all over Europe new industrial use of Glebanite, dealing with huge quantities of End of Life (EoL) from wind and aerospace sectors. Application of Glebanite in the marine industry has also become a feasible solution thanks to the “Glemould” project funded by Regione Lombardia in 2018.

Breakthrough results

Rivierasca SpA has developed a material with distinctive characteristics:
• Eco-sustainable
It allows to recycle products and production wastes which was not recyclable until that moment, especially in the case of composite materials, also affecting the reduction of raw material and energy consumption
• Workable
Glebanite® is extremely ductile before the cross-linking processes, and can be “transformed” with different technologies. Once hardened, it works like the most common semi-finished products in wood or high density foams and can be worked with traditional tools cutting, drilling, tapping, milling…
• Performance
It offers better chemical-physical performance than many thermoplastic and stone materials
• Economical and competitive
It can be sold at a competitive price compared to many competitors and it can even compete with wood, polymeric materials, bricks and stone materials.
• Versatile
It can be transformed into different types of artefacts, can float or resist fire or withstand loads as if they were wood

Beside the results related to the performance of the material, the investments in R&I activities has generated a series of side effects:

• Provide composite transformers with the know-how to process GRP waste on site
• Create a network among the companies that transform Glebanite among which circulate the developments, innovations, solutions that each individual finds in their business
• Provide waste collection centres with the know-how to process GRP’s waste on site also with alternative technology such as 3D RECYCLED COMPOSITE PRINTING, currently being studied in collaboration with +LAB, Politecnico di Milano under the FiberEUse project.

There are many companies in Europe that have already shown big interested for the result achieved, so dissemination and exploitation are boosting up very quickly giving great impulse towards a real circular economy system.

Check out the 360° video at this link!

Author: Roberta Curiazzi

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