The automotive industry is on the brink of a materials revolution and Connora Technologies, is convinced that the company’s recyclable thermoset technology (Recyclamine®) will be the tipping point.
Awarded with $730K in Phase II funding this October by the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program – Connora Technologies, led by CEO, Dr. Rey Banatao and CTO, Dr Stefan Pastine, is poised to launch a new class of recyclable high-performance composites from the laboratory into the high volume automotive market and beyond. Connora’s focus is to enable the cost effective and efficient manufacture of recyclable thermoset composites.
Thermoset composites (thermosets) are already used extensively throughout the transportation, aerospace, consumer electronics, civil engineering and sporting goods industries where superior strength/weight ratios, rigidity, durability and corrosion resistance are prized attributes. Thermosets are rapidly emerging as a vital high performance material and are even starting to replace aluminum and steel in many markets despite the material’s inherent drawbacks: thermoset composites are currently expensive, slow to produce, and intrinsically difficult to repair or recycle. Connora’s SBIR Project aims to address all of those limitations by further developing their Recyclamine® resins for HP-RTM (high-pressure resin transfer molding) applications in automotive.
Connora’s Recyclamine® technology pioneers the cost effective and efficient manufacture of sustainable thermoset composites. End-of-life composites and manufacturing scrap can now recycled in an eco-friendly process (submersion in an organic room-temperature solution) that allows for the recapture of the carbon fiber and other valuable materials intact. While existing recycling approaches tend to destroy the value of the composites, Connora’s recycling approach preserves the performance and value of the reclaimed fibers. It is also the first recycling process to reclaim the resin as a high value and reusable thermoplastic.
(l) Dr. Ulhas Bhatt – Senior chemist
(r)Dr. Szymon Kosinski – Director of process chemistry
Zero Landfill Manufacturing will soon be a reality
The composite waste problem is starting to get big and will only get bigger in the coming years – official estimates report that the overall scrap cost in the composites industry is ~$500-$700M per year and post-manufacturing scrap can account for up to 50 percent of the input materials. Add in end-of-life composites and you’ve got an economic/ecological problem that needs to be solved now.
Carbon fiber composites for automotive applications represent an emerging high-growth potential market for epoxy thermosets that provides an intriguing entry point for Connora. As an example – a small volume, composite car line would represent about 400 metric tons of Recyclamine.
The SBIR Phase II award will enable Connora to design and synthesize new recyclable polyamine structures that are then formulated with various epoxy resins to achieve the glass transition temperature (Tg) requirements for transportation composites manufacturing. Formulations are optimized for a high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process, to meet the processing and cost needs of automotive manufacturers. Auto industry partners are a key part of the process as they will aid in the testing and evaluation of each new formulated material. Doing so will help composite manufacturers meet regulatory compliance for recyclability and manufacturing waste disposal.
As Connora is able to successfully create new recyclable molecules that “mimic” other major industrial classes beyond aliphatic amines the market for these new materials will continue to expand and fulfill the vision of a circular economy for thermoset composites.
Connora Technologies and Aditya Birla Chemicals’ Epoxy Division today announced a Joint Development Agreement to scale-up the manufacturing of Connora’s recyclable epoxy thermoset technology called Recyclamine® and the two companies are now developing metric-ton scale manufacturing processes for this technology.
Read the press release here.
Join us at JEC World Paris MARCH 8-10TH.
Hall 6 Booth P39f (U.S. Pavilion).
See you in Paris!
Chemical & Engineering News has identified Connora Technologies as one of the “10 START-UPS TO WATCH”. Read the full article here.
Connora Technologies is a finalist at the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase in Austin Texas October 5-7. Connora CTO Dr. Stefan Pastine will present at the Showcase. Find out more here.
Connora Technologies along with partners Ecovative Design (USA), Enjoy Handplanes (USA) were awarded the 2015 JEC Asia Innovation Award in the Recycling category. Join us during the 8th annual JEC Asia – Composites Show and Conferences (October 20-22, 2015) for the awards presentation.
Excerpt from the official JEC press release (read the full press release here):
The unprecedented recycling of thermoset plastic composites will enable composite manufacturers to meet their cost reduction and regulatory compliance needs in the fast-growing composites industry.
The ground-breaking cradle-to-cradle recycling of a thermoset plastic composite structure with a compostable bio-based foam core will be demonstrated as part of this project. The application will be a bodysurfing board, aka “hand plane”, representing typical foam core composite structures used in many sporting, automotive, aeronautics, and marine applications today.
The foam core will be comprised of a mushroom foam fiber board made by Evocative Design. The thermoset composite will be made from Connora’s recyclamine epoxy resin system. All parts of the composite will be reclaimed and reused, while the mushroom foam core will be composted or reused.
This cradle-to-cradle composites recycling demonstration of the surfing hand plane represents the larger general concept of recyclable composites. Recyclable composites have enormous market potential in industries where hundreds of thousands of tons of composite waste are generated annually, including automotive, aerospace, electronics (PCB), wind energy, marine, and sporting products. Based on the current market value of reclaimed carbon fiber and copper, the ability to reclaim and reuse high-value materials from composite waste offers the potential for significant cost savings to composites manufacturers. Additionally, similar to the $60+B thermoplastic industry today, the creation of a secondary market for reclaimed composite materials also has significant market potential.
Rey Banatao, CEO of Connora Technologies goes Inside the Founder’s Studio with CTC to discuss the emerging recyclable thermoset industry, getting products on the market, and reflecting on ways he’d recommend entrepreneurs bet bigger from the start.
Judges declared Connora Technologies to be “Best in Show” at the California Technology Council’s “First Pitch: Renewables” event on May 7th. Find out more here.