10/21/2015 | 2 MINUTE READ

Solvay Recycling Airbag Textiles Into Polyamide 6.6 Grades

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Project site in Gorzów, Poland.

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Project site in Gorzów, Poland. Photo Courtesy: Solvay
 
 

More than 70% of car airbags are made of silicon-coated polyamide in Europe and there is up to 10,000 tons of post-industrial airbag waste per year in Europe. While regulations such as directive 2000/53/EC have set high targets for end-of-life recycling and reuse of materials in vehicles, there is no sustainable solution in place for post-consumer airbag waste in Europe. Solvay, Brussels, Belgium, hopes to change this with its Move4earth project that is working to recycle technical textile waste from post-industrial sources. The project is focused on designing, implementing and validating a new recycling process designed to revalue technical textile waste, initially from airbags, into high-quality polyamide 6.6 (PA6.6) grades with reduced environmental impacts to complement Solvay Engineering Plastics’ Technyl Force portfolio of engineering polymers.

 

The company says that validation of the technology has been completed and construction is underway for an industrial-scale facility to become operational in 2016 at the project site in Gorzów, Poland. Move4earth project is one of several Solvay initiatives supported by the European Commission as part of its LIFE+ program.

 

“Our mid-term objective is to establish an efficient and sustainable way of re-using these resources and provide pure high-grade PA6.6 recycle compounds with stable properties near those of virgin Technyl resins for a wide range of eco-designed applications,” said Richard Bourdon, Move4earth project director at Solvay.

 

Peter Browning, Solvay engineering plastics general manager, said that a revision of the waste legislation will be released by the European Commission by the end of 2015. As part of the Circular Economy Communication, new legislative initiatives on eco-design and recycling are anticipated by major customers in all PA6.6 markets, he said. Most of them are already targeting recycle contents in their products over 20% by 2020.

 

“Move4earth underscores our efforts aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of our activities and those of our customers, and it confirms our dedicated reliance on European industrial assets,” Browning said.

 

The project also addresses a need for more effective recycling solutions to help minimize large volumes of valuable engineering plastic waste.

 

Solvay has developed an advanced proprietary recycling technology for separating the airbag fabrics from the coating. The new process is said to deliver a PA6.6 premium recycle with no significant loss in material properties, including stable viscosity and robust mechanical performance. 

 

Next steps in Solvay’s Move4earth project is to bring the new facility fully on-stream to ensure a continuous target throughput under stable process conditions, and to validate value-creating options for the silicone coating by-product separated from the airbag fabrics, which can amount to 15% of the material flow. “The new recycle grades will be manufactured to the same high standards of quality as all Technyl resins,” Browning said. “We can guarantee a grade with up to 100 percent recycle matrix and secure supply.”


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