Some 300,000 turbine blades have already been dumped in EU landfills, with 40,000 more generated by the wind industry every year. Blades, but also boats, planes, and cars, are manufactured from fiber reinforced composites. These components have a high environmental impact, to name only one problem they create. These issues are being tackled by Spanish startup TRC, S.L., a finalist of this year’s clim@ competition for startups organized by the Green for Growth Fund (GGF).
TRC offers a technology providing a valid environmental management alternative for composites, using R3FIBER, a unique process enabling the recycling of fiber reinforced composite waste and transforming it into high-quality fiber, fuel, and energy.
Fiber reinforced composites, mainly composed of fibers and plastic, are widely used in many applications (wind blades, boats, planes, some cars…) and their use is increasing 12% every year. However, these materials, besides their good characteristics, also create three main problems. Composites are causing a high environmental impact, they are very hard to recycle, and have a high management cost.
Composites producers pay a high price mainly due to the high prices of carbon fibers. Waste generators pay high management cost, and they are not complying with the European Union’s recommendations on the circular economy. That’s the reason why composite materials are dumped in landfills, wasting a valuable resource and causing a global environmental problem.
TRC has started the implementation of thermal recycling of composites in the wind sector given that the wind industry has already generated 300,000 blades in the EU alone that have been dumped in landfills. Moreover, the wind industry generates around 40,000 new blades annually to replace the old wind mills.
What is R3FIBER
TRC, S.L. offers a technology providing a valid environmental management alternative for composites, using a unique process (R3FIBER). This tech is patent pending.
R3FIBER can manage the waste at a lower price, helping avert dumping into landfills and transforming this waste into products.
At the same time, thanks to this tech, TRC can provide composite companies with fibers that are priced lower than the commercial ones and come with good performance, i.e. from more than 70% to up to 90% of the initial mechanical properties. These recycled fibers eliminate the need to produce new ones, reducing the carbon footprint.
The use of this tech will avert a high amount of CO2 emissions by eliminating the need to manufacture new fibers. Within five years, the TRC tech will cut CO2 emissions by 26 MTons.
Over the same period, TRC will have plants located in the main European markets. And through its patent, TRC will have coverage needed to expand to other target countries. TRC plans to expand to other markets through joint ventures with recycling and composites users. In addition to the blades, TRC is recycling composites from other industries such as fractions of airplanes, bicycles, etc.
Helping companies avoid dumping waste into landfills
TRC’s technology helps companies to achieve a circular economy, in this way contributing to the environment, avoiding the dump of waste into landfills and the production of new materials, and reducing CO2 emissions. At the same time, TRC helps increase profits and create new jobs.
Olga Rodríguez, CCO at TRC
TRC offers R3FIBER, a thermochemical technology to recycle fiber reinforced composite waste. The objective of R3FIBER is to provide a green technology to recycle wind turbine blades and other composites that come to the end of their serviceable lives and are becoming an emergent waste, with the aim of obtaining high quality fibers, energy, and fuels. The new process will contribute to addressing European priorities related to the circular economy, the sustainable supply of raw materials, and a low carbon economy.
The Magnificent Seven
TRC,a spin-off of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), has seven co-founders and has recently added a technician to the team. Team members are highly qualified and have experience in the fields of research and development, business, operating plants, and finance.
Oriol Grau, CEO of TRC, is member of the management team at Enreco 2000, as well as founder and manager of Boxes Sant Andreu, S.L.
Ferrán Grau, CTO of TRC, has co-authored several patents.
Félix A. López, COO of TRC, manages the development of new technological applications.
Ruth Castellar, CFO of TRC, is also CFO at Enreco 2000, S.L., Enoc S.L., and Rehisa.
Roger Grau, industrial tech at TRC, has developed several patents along with other team members.
Teresa Garcia, CHRO of TRC, is co-founder and manager of Enreco 2000 S.L. and co-founder of Espai Natural d’oci i cultura, S.L.
Olga Rodríguez Largo, CCO of TRC, has more than 10 years of experience in research projects related to the recycling of materials.