Composite material development from waste streams
Researchers are looking at whether waste from agriculture or fossil fuel-based plastics can be repurposed into something useful.
We’re working with several SMEs to develop high strength composite materials from non-degradable plastics and agricultural wastes. We have turned them into useful products suitable for a range of applications such as furniture, footwear, sporting goods, in construction, and for the food industry.
This research includes developing additives to blend different fossil fuel-based plastics that typically do not mix.
For example, we have blended recycled plastic bottles and plastic bags with our additives to produce composite materials that have unique mechanical properties, some exceeding those seen in the virgin materials. These composites can be processed using existing equipment and processes.
We have also turned waste textiles from old clothes and uniforms, along with recycled plastics, into fully recycled composites that can be used for furniture. This approach has the potential to be used elsewhere.
We are currently working on converting agricultural waste materials into composites that will biodegrade into the soil and leave no micro-plastics or harmful residues. These composites can be used to replace single use plastics that do not harm the environment.