Structural Components from Recycled Fiber Reinforced Composites

Period of Performance: 01/01/2001 - 12/31/2001

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

GMI Composites, Inc
1355 W. Sherman Blvd
Muskegon Heights, MI 49444
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites offer inherent advantages over traditional materials with regard to high strength-to-weight ratio, design flexibility, corrosion resistance, low maintenance, and extended service life. FRP usage will increase dramatically in the next few years because of high demands in the civil infrastructure, offshore oil platforms, and automotive industries. Two issues that must be addressed to ensure continued growth in FRP usage is the disposal of waste generated during parts production and the disposal of the parts at the end of their useful life. There are no companies in the United States recycling FRP material in any quantities. Two of the major cost drivers for composites are labor and raw materials. Labor costs can be reduced significantly through the use of an automated process like pultrusion. The use of recycled FRPs offers low-cost raw materials. GMI Composites, Inc., and the University of Missouri-Rolla propose to develop an integral core-filled pultrusion process for fabrication of panels utilizing the partially ground FRP as a core material. A prototype machine will be designed and built. The process will be optimized and the pultruded cored panels will be fully characterized. The commercial potential for the pultruded panels is very high?the main competitive product, plywood, used in the industries being targeted is $157 million annually. The new product offers many advantages over plywood, including the fact that it will not rot, has a higher strength and stiffness, and has cost stability.