CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Summer 2022 FRP Poles Part of Fire Mitigation Strategy Sustainability & Composites Gaining Ground in the Automotive Market
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CompositesManufacturing The Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association About the Cover: Creative Pultrusions, part of the Creative Composites Group, has developed an FRP pole with a fire-retardant composite sleeve that protects the base pole and improves its ability to withstand wildfires. As part of its fire mitigation efforts, a California utility is replacing some of its wooden utility poles with the FRP poles. Photo Courtesy of Creative Composites Group Summer 2022 Features 6 10 21 Making Composites the Sustainable Material of Choice.................. 14 Companies are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable business practices. With that responsibility comes opportunity for the composites industry, but it will require a multi-tiered approach that includes reducing climate impacts, promoting use-phase sustainability and other strategies. By John Schweitzer An Innovator’s Insight into Aviation. .......... 21 Linden Blue, an owner and vice chairman of General Atomics, is an aviation pioneer who has spent more than 65 years in the aerospace industry. He shares insight on the next generation of composites, artificial intelligence, unmanned aircraft and more. By Susan Keen Flynn Positioning Composites in Automotive Production. ......................... 25 For composites to gain a stronger foothold in the automotive market, they need to do more than hit performance metrics. They need to meet holistic business goals. By Edwin Pope Market Segments Infrastructure.............................................. 6 Fire-retardant Utility Poles Renewable Energy ................................... 10 Biocomposite Wind Blades Departments & Columns From the ACMA Chair.............................. 2 Tech Talk . ................................................... 3 Inside ACMA............................................ 30 Ad Index.................................................... 32 Photo Credit: DaveAlan Photo Credit: Creative Composites Group Photo Credit: INCA Renewtech Photo Credit: Veronique Duplain
CompositesManufacturing 2 Sustainability is a hot button issue. However, historically, businesses that weren’t manufacturing highly visible products directly for consumers – such as plastic bags for grocery stores – did not think of themselves as part of this conversation. Many in our industry have long held the view that they represent such a small fraction of overall environmental impact that it doesn’t need to be a high priority. That’s changing. No matter what your political or personal beliefs on the issue, it’s time to pay attention. Environmental issues matter to consumers, environmental advocates and the government. Viewing sustainability simply in terms of recycling of scrap within your operation to improve yield and cost is short-sighted. Sustainability covers an array of issues, including climate change, air pollution, water contamination, energy conservation, the carbon footprint and much more. Increasingly, companies are being asked to respond to federal and state regulations, as well as pressure from stakeholders, investors, customers and others. In this issue of Composites Manufacturing magazine, ACMA’s John Schweitzer shares insight on why sustainability matters to the composites industry and how our materials can become the sustainable material of choice. He also presents details on ACMA’s new Climate Impact Project. Check out the article on page 14. If you’re curious how your peers are producing and promoting sustainable solutions, turn to the two market segment articles. The story on page 10 delves into INCA Renewtech’s development of biocomposites for wind blades. Beginning on page 6, learn about Creative Pultrusions’ fire-resistant FRP utility poles that help improve resiliency of electrical grids. And, unlike wooden poles, they don’t leach any preservatives or insecticides into the ground and contaminate water sources. One of the best venues for learning more about sustainability and ACMA’s Climate Impact Project is CAMX – the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, which will be held Oct. 17 – 20, 2022, in Anaheim, Calif. Our association is providing strong leadership on the issue, ensuring that we are advocating for the most impactful solutions. ACMA will host a Composites Sustainability Forum on Oct. 17 in Anaheim. Of course, CAMX will cover dozens of other important industry topics – from advances in manufacturing to workforce development and new composite market applications – as well as provide fantastic networking and collaboration opportunities. I look forward to seeing you there, so sign up today at thecamx.org. Sincerely, Fred Sanford ACMA Chairman of the Board email@example.com From the ACMA Chair Composites Manufacturing Official Magazine of the American Composites Manufacturers Association Publisher Cindy Squires firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Managing Editor Susan Keen Flynn email@example.com Associate Director, Marketing Barry Black, II firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Design & Production Innovative Association Solutions, LLC email@example.com ias-online.net Advertising Sales Manager of Business Development John Catapano firstname.lastname@example.org All reprint requests should be directed to email@example.com Volume 38 | Number 3 | Summer 2022 American Composites Manufacturers Association 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250 Arlington, VA 22201 Phone: 703-525-0511 Fax: 703-525-0743 firstname.lastname@example.org www.acmanet.org Composites Manufacturing (ISSN 1084-841X) is published bi-monthly by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201 USA. Subscription rates: Free for members and non-members in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; $55 for international non-members. A free online subscription is available at cmmagazineonline. org. Periodical postage paid at Arlington, VA and additional mail offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Composites Manufacturing, ACMA Headquarters, 2000 N. 15th Street, Ste. 250, Arlington, VA 22201. The magazine is mailed to ACMA members and is also available by subscription. Canada Agreement number: PM40063731 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ON N9A 6J5, Email: email@example.com. Copyright© 2022 by ACMA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted without permission from the publisher. ACMA, a nonprofit organization representing the composites industry worldwide, publishes Composites Manufacturing, circulation 9,000, as a service to its members and other subscribers. Opinions or statements of authors and advertisers appearing in Composites Manufacturing are their own and don’t necessarily represent that of ACMA, its Board of Directors or its staff. Information is considered accurate at the time of publication, however accuracy is not warranted. It’s Time to Pay Attention to Sustainability
www.acmanet.org 3 Understanding Fire Codes – Part 2 By John Schweitzer In the spring issue of Composites Manufacturing, I described how fire codes are developed and enforced. In this column, we’ll look at specific codes that may be important to composites manufacturers. NFPA 33, the Standard for Spray Application Using Flammable and Combustible Materials, is likely the most important code for composites manufacturers using open molding. Chapter 17 of this code, on Styrene Cross-Linked Composites Manufacturing (Glass Fiber–Reinforced Plastics), is the result of decades of work by the industry, led by Lowell Miles of Miles Fiberglass and Composites, to get approval for a code that protects open molding shops against fire risks while recognizing that composite resin spray operations are less hazardous than spray painting. Before this chapter was adopted into NFPA 33, OSHA routinely enforced the spray finishing fire safety requirements at 29 CFR 1910.107, which was a problem especially for the fabrication of large parts that could not fit in traditional spray booths. Since then, it has been OSHA policy that composites open molding operations not in compliance with the 1910.107 standard, but meeting the requirements of NPFA 33, will receive no more than a de minimis citation without fine or other penalty. Chapter 17 contains provisions for fire protection, resin storage, electrical hazards, ventilation, handling of excess catalyzed resin and the use of paper or plastic film in spray booths to collect overspray. In addition, Chapter 16 of NFPA 33 has important requirements for spray application operations involving organic peroxides. Industry compliance experts often recommend that composites manufacturers purchase a copy of NFPA 33, make sure they are following relevant provisions and have the document on hand for reference when the facility is visited by OSHA, local fire code officials or insurance company representatives. The second most relevant fire code is NFPA 30, the Flammable and Combustible Liquids code. When they inspect industry operations, local code officials often question the amount of resin, gel coat and other flammable liquids stored in or near resin application areas. These questions can be resolved by reference to NFPA 30. Some composites manufacturers might find that this code places significant restrictions on the amount, package type, or stacking of resin or gel coat permitted to be stored inside Tech Talk +1.775.827.6568 firstname.lastname@example.org www.abaris.com 5-day courses from the world’s best Advanced Composite Engineering Courses • Composite Essentials for Engineers and Managers • Composite Laminate Analysis • Design of Composite Structures • FEA, DIC, and Advanced Stress Methods for Composite Structures and Repairs • Aerospace Repair Analysis and Substantiation • Advanced Aerospace Repair Analysis and Substantiation Contact us to register today. Members, Use Code: ACMA200 at Checkout to receive a $200.00 discount. Photo Credit: koyu
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www.acmanet.org 5 a manufacturing or warehouse building, which in some cases has been resolved by moving some storage to approved facilities outside the building. In other cases, it has been necessary to retain a fire safety engineer to conduct a fire hazards analysis that considers the actual hazards of the facility’s resin storage operations. Recall from my previous column that fire codes are written to provide adequate protections for a wide range of operations and might over- or under-protect any individual facility. Composites manufacturers with dust-generating operations should refer to NFPA 652: Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, and NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids, for the practices and provisions intended to reduce combustible dust hazards. NFPA 652 provides general information for all dust-generating operations, while NFPA 654 includes provisions specifically for polymer dust, such as the dust resulting from the grinding, drilling, sanding, cutting or otherwise mechanically working composite products. The presence of dusts on horizontal surfaces like ceiling rafters and in dust handling equipment such as ducts and cyclones are areas of concern for managing combustible dust standards. Some composites manufacturers have tested dusts generated in their operations, but all such tests have revealed that the dusts are an explosion hazard if enough is distributed in the air. Annex D of NFPA 654 describes a method for using the amount of dust accumulated on rafters and other surfaces to assess the risk of fire or explosion. Many composites manufacturers manage combustible dust hazards by using regular housekeeping to keep dust accumulation below the levels provided in Annex D. This practice keeps the amount of dust below the level that might cause an explosive atmosphere if distributed as a dust cloud in the air. Finally, we come to NPFA 400, the Hazardous Materials Code, Chapter 14 of which is on Organic Peroxide (OP) Formulations. The 2019 edition of NPFA 400 recommends storage limits for OP formulations based on a series of fire tests conducted by OP suppliers. Some composites manufacturers may find that the revised storage limits prevent the storage of an amount of OP necessary to support operations. In such cases, it may be possible to work with suppliers to identify a workable OP formulation with a lower hazard classification and therefore less restrictive storage limits. ACMA members are welcome to contact me if they have questions about fire code compliance. John Schweitzer is senior advisor to the president at ACMA. Email comments to email@example.com. Disclaimer: Opinions, statements and technical information within the Tech Talk column are that of the authors. ACMA makes no warranty of any kinds, expressed or implied, with respect to information in the column, including fitness for a particular purpose. Persons using the information within the column assume all risk and liability for any losses, damages, claims or expenses resulting from such use.
CompositesManufacturing 6 Infrastructure Photo Credit: Creative Composites Group Wildfires burned more than 2.5 million acres of land in California in 2021 and, with high heat and record drought in the forecast, the state could be facing similar losses in 2022. To reduce fire risk and improve the resiliency of electrical grids, California’s utility companies are beefing up their mitigation efforts, trimming trees, burying electrical lines and, in some cases, replacing wood electrical poles with fireretardant FRP poles. Composites manufacturing companies have been selling FRP utility poles in various parts of the U.S. for almost a quarter century, and now utilities in fireprone areas have an even greater incentive to use them. Creative Pultrusions, part of the Creative Composites Group (CCG), has developed an FRP pole with a highly fire-retardant composite sleeve that protects the base pole and improves its ability to withstand the fierce wildfire temperatures. “Our poles have always been fireresistant. They meet the UL 94 V-O classification, which means they will selfextinguish on a vertical burn,” explains Dustin Troutman, CCG’s director of marketing and product development. Over the years, the company has continued to research combinations of thermoset resins and fire-resistant additives to improve composite poles’ fire resistance. In early 2020, the company introduced its new line of FireStrong™ poles, which feature the FRP sleeve. The FireStrong composite material has been engineered to withstand three minutes of temperatures at 2100 degrees Fahrenheit – the conditions that can be created by the brush, grass and chaparral shrub fires that are typical in California and other Western states. The composite sleeve is unique because it not only insulates and cools the pole, but also protects it. The heat from a fire triggers an endothermic chemical reaction in the sleeve which produces water that absorbs thermal energy and insulates the pole. The outer sleeve protects the FireStrong pole from reaching temperatures that would cause permanent strength loss. At the request of a utility company customer, CCG added a temperature measurement device into the pole to get an accurate read on what happens to it during a fire. “The utility company wanted a way to inspect the poles post-fire to determine what kind of strength retention they had,” says Troutman. “So, we incorporated a permanent measuring device that continuously monitors the temperature of the surface of the FRP pole and records the maximum temperature it reaches. Based on that temperature exposure, the utility can determine whether to replace the pole or continue to use it because they know the strength is fine.” A utility can check the recorder, positioned on the pole approximately two feet above the ground line, by removing an access cover. CCG also provides utility companies with a visual standard they can use to determine a pole’s strength after a fire. “Because we’ve tested so many poles, we can look at a pole and gauge, based on the amount of char and how high the char is on the pole, whether it was compromised or not,” explains Troutman. Using these two indicators, the utilities can replace only those poles that don’t have the necessary structural integrity to carry the wires. That saves them money and labor. If utilities want to continue using a pole, they can repair the insulating sleeve so it’s ready for the next fire event. CCG manufactures FireStrong Utility Poles that Can Beat the Heat After the FireStrong™ poles were fire-tested in laboratories, an independent agency measured their post-fire structural integrity.
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CompositesManufacturing 8 poles in a pultrusion process using proprietary, high-end engineered fabrics. It incorporates UV inhibitors in the materials and then uses its in-mold coating technology to add an extra layer of UV protection during the manufacturing process. The composite sleeve, which is installed during the manufacturing process, is available in different lengths. Utility companies determine what size sleeve they need based on factors such as the height of the pole, the height of the fuel source and the potential height of the fire considering the slope of the area where it is installed. FireStrong poles are delivered to customers pre-drilled and ready for installation. To validate the performance of FireStrong poles, Southwest Research and the Western Fire Center conducted test burns. “After the poles were burned at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, we took them to EDM International, which used its testing tools to determine the strength retention of those poles post-fire,” says Troutman. In addition to their fire-resistance, FireStrong poles offer all the other advantages of FRP utility poles. They have high dielectric strength, which means they are poor conductors of electricity. That reduces workers’ risk of electric shock from shorting wires. Unlike wooden poles, they don’t leach any preservatives or insecticides into the ground and contaminate water sources. They are lighter weight than equivalent-size wooden poles, so they are easier to transport into inaccessible areas. Although they are more expensive up front, they have an expected lifespan of 75 years and can withstand hurricane-strength winds that knock down wooden poles. Troutman says that one California utility has begun installing FireStrong poles as part of its fire mitigation efforts. Although there have been no fires in these areas, Troutman says the utility is confident that it is now prepared for them. Troutman also envisions other applications for CCG’s fire-retardant technology. “I think the logical thing is for us to take this patented technology and expand it into applications where fire performance is critical – bridges, grid structures or anywhere where fire would be a concern,” he says. Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re involved in the utilities market, consider joining ACMA’s Utility & Communications Structure Council. The Composites Growth Initiative committee focuses on education, legislation, regulation, and codes and standards development. For more information, contact Hannah Nugent at hnugent@ acmanet.org. Make a Mark on the Utilities Market Photo Credit: Creative Composites Group As part of its fire mitigation efforts, a California utility is replacing some of its wooden utility poles with FRP poles that feature a special fire-retardant sleeve. A utility company can determine the structural integrity of an FRP pole after a fire by checking the embedded temperature gauge to determine the maximum temperature the pole reached. Photo Credit: Creative Composites Group
CompositesManufacturing 10 Renewable Energy The world’s increasing reliance on wind energy has spurred demand for wind turbines and the giant blades that power them. But meeting those market needs has been difficult due to the shortage and skyrocketing cost of balsa, the strong, lightweight wood that is sandwiched between GFRP to create wind blades. At least one blade manufacturer has been using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) foams in blade tips, but it still requires balsa to provide shear modulus for the root section of the blade. Within the next two years, Canadabased INCA Renewtech will offer an alternative – a sustainable biocomposite that could replace balsa at any location in the blade. INCA BioBalsa™, manufactured from hemp fibers, has a density comparable to balsa (10 pounds per cubic foot) and an even better compressive strength than the wood due to its random fiber placement, according to the company. INCA says BioBalsa is cost competitive and more sustainable than balsa and foam, and unlike balsa, can be engineered to provide both moisture and fire resistance. The hemp for BioBalsa comes from the Canadian prairies, where farmers have been growing the plant as a protein source for two decades. “But the tall stalks of the hemp plant, which contain some of the strongest fibers on earth, were underutilized, used as horse bedding and for soil remediation,” says David Saltman, INCA Renewtech’s chairman and CEO. “We realized that if we could process and refine the hemp ourselves to make textile grade materials, which is roughly 99% pure fiber, we could build our own composites out of that material. We could utilize what had essentially been a waste stream and get a much higher value out of a low-cost raw material.” INCA Renewtech has developed applications for every part of the hemp plant. BioBalsa is made with short fibers from the hurd – the woody inner part of the stalk – which replace glass fiber as the reinforcement material. The company is in full-scale manufacturing line trials for composite prepregs for Toyota. It is also trialing a plywood replacement called BioPanels™ made from hemp’s long fibers for Genesis Products. Sustainable manufacturing is key to INCA Renewtech’s business model, and that approach is demonstrated in the manufacture of BioBalsa. A lifecycle assessment from GreenStep Solutions found that one cubic meter of BioBalsa sequesters 260 kg of carbon dioxide. “You not only have that sequestration during the growing period, but if you’re going to put the product into a wind turbine blade – and that has a life of 20 or more years – that means that carbon continues to be sequestered,” says Camille Saltman, chief marketing and sales officer, INCA Renewtech. The company has also developed technologies that will enable deconstruction and material recycling of decommissioned blades. Camille Saltman says BioBalsa production generates 107% less greenhouse gas emissions and reduces Bio-based Composite Could Aid in Wind Energy Production Photo Credit: INCA Renewtech BioBalsa™, a composite made with the fibers found in hemp hurd, has the necessary properties to replace the natural balsa wood that provides internal support for giant wind blades.
See Composites One and Aerovac at Booth L23 during CAMX 2022 in Anaheim, CA, October 17-20. 800.621.8003 | www.compositesone.com | www.b2bcomposites.com People | Product | Process | Performance Ask manufacturers why they choose Composites One and you’ll get the same answer. It’s PERFORMANCE. Delivered by technical sales and service experts helping them learn the latest processes that can help their business grow. Reinforced each day by customer service reps and local support teams at more than 44 locations across North America. Provided by the deepest, broadest range of traditional and advanced composites products from more than 600 industry-leading suppliers. With the best people, the right products and the latest processes, you get performance. Only from Composites One. That’s the power of One – Composites One. “Every member of our team—from drivers to sales—is committed to making sure customers get the right products they need, when they need them.” Doug Miles, Warehouse/Driver, Lenexa, KS
CompositesManufacturing 12 waste generation by 93% compared to the cutting and milling of balsa wood. It generates 164% less carbon emissions than PET and has 99.56% less waste production and 93% less water consumption than foam production. Gurit, an advanced composites supplier that works with the wind energy industry, was attracted to INCA Renewtech’s BioBalsa work in part because of the company’s emphasis on sustainability. “The BioBalsa project fits nicely with Gurit’s ambitions as a sustainability leader,” says Thomas Nauer, the company’s head of marketing, communications and sustainability. “The wind turbine industry is aiming at zerowaste, recyclable turbine structures and is looking for ways to further reduce its greenhouse gas footprint. Therefore, a material that is both bio-based and made from recycled components is clearly a benefit and provides an answer to both sustainability and technology trends.” Over the past nine months, INCA Renewtech has been working to engineer BioBalsa to Gurit’s specifications. “We have the ability to formulate the product to meet very specific market demands,” explains Garry Balthes, chief technology officer. “We sent Gurit an initial product that we felt closely resembles or replicates balsa, and they tested it and provided data back on what direction we needed to go. That has allowed us to focus in on making adjustments to the formulation in order to meet the exact demands for whatever part of the wind blade the BioBalsa is going to be used for.” Nauer notes that the specific properties of BioBalsa, including its density and the resin uptake of the material, will define the parts of a wind blade where it will be most suitable and competitive with other materials. BioBalsa is resin agnostic, but the percentage of resin in the material remains relatively low because of the properties found in natural fibers. “Trees and plants in general have natural lignans that bind them together, so we can actually capture and utilize that lignan as a binder,” says Balthes. “We don’t go over 30% resin, whether it’s liquid resins, dry resins, a photoresist base or a hybrid base. We’re probably going to be able to drop that percentage down even more.” INCA Renewtech will mass produce BioBalsa at a new 164.000-square-foot hemp processing and composite manufacturing facility in Alberta, Canada, and its other hemp-based composites at a new 235,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Elkhart County, Ind. IPCO AB, which has worked on other projects with INCA Renewtech, will design and manufacture the BioBalsa production equipment. Michael Tobiasz, IPCO’s regional product specialist and business development manager for composites in North America, says it will feature a Teflon™ double belt press that will consolidate the materials, heat them and exert the equalized surface pressure necessary for the desired calibration, thickness and densities of the material, and then cool it. The IPCO equipment will be a continuous process machine, capable of producing the long lengths of BioBalsa material that the wind blade industry might require. The manufacturing line is being designed for maximum production flexibility. “The line is designed right now to run 100 pounds of BioBalsa per minute. That’s a line speed of 10 meters a minute, at 40 inches wide, a half-inch thick and a 10.5-pound density,” says Balthes. “But we can very quickly adjust the layering so that we can make it a 15- or 20-pound density.” Large-scale production of BioBalsa for wind blades should begin at the factory in early 2024. In the meantime, INCA Renewtech and Gurit will put prototype BioBalsa blades through the independent laboratory testing required to gain widespread market acceptance for the new biocomposite. David Saltman is optimistic about the future but realizes hurdles remain. “We know with Gurit, we have to be performance competitive, we have to be price competitive, and we have to be manufacturing at volume,” he says. He acknowledges that achieving all that is a lot to accomplish in less than two years. “The real challenge is that we have to go from zero to 60 in four seconds,” he says. If their efforts are successful, BioBalsa could become an integral part of the wind energy industry before too long. Mary Lou Jay is a freelance writer based in Timonium, Md. Email comments to email@example.com. ACMA is committed to sustainability. It has launched a Climate Impact Project to provide essential tools, resources and education to help composites manufacturers assess climate impacts associated with production of their products and raw materials, as well as provide information requested by customers. For more information, visit acmanet.org/acmas-climate-impact-project. Prepare for a Sustainable Future 8' 3((. &DUERQ 7DSH 8' 3(.. &DUERQ 7DSH 8' 3(, &DUERQ 7DSH 8' 336 &DUERQ 7DSH 8' 3$ &DUERQ 7DSH At the foref ront of innovat ion in advanced composi tes G O R D O N P L A S T I C S F I B E R R E I N F O R C E D P O L Y M E R S W W W . G O R D O N P L A S T I C S . C O M
CompositesManufacturing 14 Climate change and its effects are a frequent topic in the news media, but the coverage isn’t merely theoretical. Companies are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable business practices. If composites manufacturers haven’t yet heard from customers requesting information on how they are addressing climate change, they will soon. Responding to federal and state regulations, as well as pressure from investors and other stakeholders, organizations from automakers to state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are asking suppliers to reduce the emission of climatewarming gases and improve the resilience of products in the face of climate change. And while the focus today is on climate change, our industry will also be expected to assess and act to reduce other sustainability impacts, such as the generation of waste (in the form of solid waste, discharge to water and emissions to the air of volatile organic compounds and particulate) and the use of potentially toxic substances. Making composites the sustainable material of choice is a focus of ACMA’s newly revised strategic plan. Under the plan, ACMA’s Climate Impact Project (CIP) will provide member companies with education and resources to succeed in a sustainability driven marketplace for structural materials. Development of the components of the CIP (shown in Figure 1) will be completed by mid-2023. Cradle-to-Gate Climate Impacts Successfully participating in today’s marketplace requires suppliers to provide assessments of the climate impacts associated with the manufacture of their products and raw materials. These cradle-to-gate life cycle assessments (LCA) are needed by end users like automakers and state DOTs so these organizations can assess their own cradle-to-gate (or cradle-tograve) impacts. Developing an LCA for a product is the first step in the process of decarbonization, followed by reducing the product’s cradle-to-gate impacts. Many large companies have announced plans to move toward climate neutral or carbon net zero supply chains. The federal government is pressing recipients of grants or loans for products like highway bridges and water treatment systems and suppliers of products directly to the government such as cars and aircraft to move toward low carbon materials. An LCA identifies the source of climate impacts associated with the manufacture of a product and raw materials and provides a baseline against which to measure progress in reducing those impacts. Manufacturers of composite products for most markets will have to invest in the routine preparation of LCAs for their products. ACMA’s CIP will include tools and guidance to make the process of developing LCAs more understandable, reliable and cost efficient for composites manufacturers. ACMA completed a Life Cycle Inventory Report in 2012 that illustrates how an LCA can identify opportunities for a composites manufacturer to reduce cradle-to-gate climate impacts. For example, the report indicates the largest amount of climate impact for a typical open molded product is associated with the resin used to make the product. (The emission of significant quantities of climate warming gases associated with resin production is driven largely by the high-temperature steam cracking of hydrocarbons to produce the small reactive molecules used as building blocks in the production of polymers.) For a typical compression molded product, the Success hinges on reducing climate impacts, promoting use-phase sustainability and developing recycling technologies that provide high-value products. Making Composites the Sustainable Material of Choice By John Schweitzer Photo Credit: Galeanu Mihai
www.acmanet.org 15 process energy (electricity) needed to heat dies, operate presses and produce molding compound accounts for the largest share of the climate impact. Composites manufacturers will have to work with suppliers to identify raw materials or processes with reduced climate impacts. Companies should also collaborate with providers of electricity, natural gas and other energy sources to evaluate the availability of energy streams associated with reduced climate impacts. For example, most electric utilities can already provide power from renewable sources, such as wind or hydropower, at a price premium. Use-Phase Benefits The sustainability landscape isn’t all doom-and-gloom for the composites industry. Replacing traditional materials with composites brings important sustainability benefits – high strength, low weight, corrosion resistance, durability. And then there are the important products that would not be possible without composites, such as wind turbine blades. But what about climate change? Does the use of composites instead of traditional materials reduce the emission of climate warming gases? There have been some efforts to quantitatively demonstrate that this is true, and composites do provide some benefit, but overall the results are not very compelling. 1 An update and expansion of ACMA’s 2012 Life Cycle Inventory. An LCI provides per-unit-of-production estimates for important metrics, such as the amount of energy consumed for production of 1,000 pounds of glass fiber. The CIP will add data for production of vinyl ester, polyurethane and epoxy resin, carbon fiber and the production of pultruded products. 2 Peer reviewed cradle-to-gate life cycle assessments (LCAs) for production of a composite utility pole, rebar and an automotive component. These model LCAs, based on averages of data collected from operations manufacturing each type of product, will serve as examples of the use of the updated LCI plus data from a company’s own operations to prepare an LCA for its product. 3 An online LCA calculator, which will allow a composite manufacturer to prepare an LCA for their product by inputting their own data, including adjustments to the LCI (for example, to reflect reduced climate impact if the company is using glass fiber produced with green hydrogen instead of natural gas). 4 Development of the product category rule (PCR) that will be needed by composites manufacturers to translate information from their LCAs into the environmental product declarations (EPDs) increasingly required for construction and infrastructure products. 5 A standardized format for conveying cradle-to-gate climate impacts information to end users for composite products that are not intended for construction or infrastructure, such as components for cars and trucks, appliances and medical equipment. 6 Model environmental product declarations (EPDs) for rebar and utility poles based on the model LCAs, illustrating use of the PCR. 7 Education in the form of webinars, conference sessions and websites to help member companies understand the steps needed to assess the climate impacts associated with the production of their products and raw materials and to convey that information to their customers. 8 Arrangements with consulting firms that can cost-effectively prepare reliable and authoritative LCAs and EPDs for ACMA member companies. Figure 1: Components of ACMA’s Climate Impact Project (CIP) Unlimited Applications Unmatched Performance Is it possible to increase strength and stiffness while reducing weight and cost? With Vectorply composite reinforcement fabrics it is! Our wide range of fiberglass, carbon and aramid fabrics, combined with industryleading technical services and support can take your product higher, farther, and faster with less weight and labor. Giving your product the competitive edge is our business. Learn more at vectorply.com. 1-800-577-4521 | www.vectorply.com
CompositesManufacturing 16 These comparative analyses heavily depend on assumptions about the extent of the system – the exact design, construction, use and end-of-life disposal practices, as well as the assumed lifespan of the materials and assembled end-use product. And it is not clear how to account for benefits that occur in the future, such as not needing to replace a composite-reinforced bridge deck at 75 years when a steel-reinforced deck would need to be replaced. It may be more important to educate infrastructure users and product consumers about the hard-to-quantify social advantages of composites. For example, people living in storm- or wildfireprone areas could be informed about the resilience of composite utility poles. Similarly, communities with highway bridges needing extensive maintenance or replacement could be informed that the resulting traffic disruption, inconvenience and economic loss can be avoided if composites are used to reconstruct or replace the bridges. Increasing awareness of the use-phase sustainability benefits of composite products supports the industry advancing toward a circular economy and the consequent reduction of certain business risks. Reducing the Risks of a Linear Economy According to a widely accepted analysis advanced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, our national economy is dominated by a linear model of production and consumption, in which goods are manufactured from raw materials, sold, used and then discarded as waste. By contrast a circular economy is designed to be restorative and regenerative and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value. The linear economy is under increasing challenge in several ways: • Material recycling and waste-based energy recovery captures only a small fraction of the original raw material value, and most of the value of extracted materials is simply thrown away after their initial use. • A linear system increases the exposure of companies to the risks of volatile resource prices and supply disruptions, which increase uncertainty and discourage businesses from investing. • A linear economy exposes companies to the risk of regulations to curtail and price negative environmental and social impacts. • Shareholders and lenders, employees and consumers are ready to “deselect” companies failing to respond to the climate change and other environmental and social challenges, and citizens in a growing number of states and localities are voicing the same expectations of their governments, public services and utilities. Conversely, in a circular economy the only inputs to the system are from renewable sources, and the only outputs are the value of the products enjoyed by society. (A perfectly circular composites industry is illustrated in Figure 2.) Of course, perfect circularity is not a necessary or practical objective. But the less circular our industry’s economy is, the more likely it is to face the business challenges described above. When we refer to a composites industry economy, we are talking about the flow of economic value through the industry, from extraction of raw materials to final disposal of materials and products. Moving toward a circular economy means preserving the value of raw materials and products as long as possible by lengthening the time that they provide useful service and repurposing them when they no longer fulfill their original function or recycling them into high-value products. The following approaches could be used by composites manufacturers to increase circularity and reduce business risks: Figure 2: A Perfectly Circular Composites Industry Economy Source: ACMA
www.acmanet.org 17 • Promote the use of durable and long-lasting composites to increase the economic value obtained from the raw materials and energy used to produce an end-use product. • Recover and recycle plant waste and end-of-life products into materials used to produce new composite products or convert the waste into materials used as high-value inputs by another industry. • Work with suppliers to identify materials and energy sources derived from renewable resources. • Reduce the use of potentially toxic materials. Composite products already provide increased durability, resilience and longevity. An increased awareness of the sustainability benefits of composite products during use may drive market growth more than quantitative data from LCAs and may be needed to avoid imposition of taxes, regulations or other government policies aimed at the mishandling of non-durable plastic products like packaging. Composites Recycling Recovering the resins and reinforcement fibers from end-oflife composites and using them to manufacture new composite products or as high-value inputs to other processes would increase the lifecycle value of raw materials, reduce reliance on limited sources of non-renewable resources and reduce the amount of disposed waste. The most widely reported activity using end-of-life composites that would otherwise be disposed of in landfills is the use of ground up wind turbine blades as an input to cement manufacturing, but this may not be the best model for the industry as a whole. Blades are taken out of service at predictable times and places, while the disposal of most other types of composite products is widely dispersed in time and location and the collection of significant quantities of material would be much more complicated, expensive and environmentally impactful. Further, to be considered fully sustainable, the output of a recycling process should be used back in the process that made the original product, reducing the industry’s use of high-value virgin materials. Finally, one study concluded that the emission of climate warming gases from the use of out-of-service blades as an input to cement manufacturing could exceed the amount emitted if the blades were directly landfilled. To achieve overarching results, the industry should continue to support development of economically and environmentally sustainable collection and recycling technologies that provide high-value products. Even though such technologies may not be viable in the near term, eventually all industries will be expected to substantially reduce their use of non-renewable resources. In the meantime, there isn’t a shortage of landfill space in most of the United States. Composite materials are inert and will not degrade in a landfill and release pollutants into the water or air. The environmental and social impacts of disposing of this material in local landfills is likely less than transporting the material significant distances to where it will be processed and used. It is possible that government action will change the economics of recycling composites. Motivated by the accumulation of discarded plastic in the ocean and the dumping of plastic waste in less developed countries, some members of Congress are considering taxes on virgin resin or other incentives for increased recycling, and the same motivation is behind efforts to craft a global plastics treaty requiring end-of-life recycling of all polymers. As discussed earlier, composite products typically provide decades of significant environmental and social benefits during their use. Increasing public awareness of the use-phase sustainability benefits of composites may be as important as recycling for escaping taxes, regulations or other government policies aimed at reducing the mishandling of discarded singleuse, non-durable plastic products like packaging. To summarize, the composites industry needs to respond to the needs of its customers by assessing and then acting to reduce the climate impacts associated with the manufacture of composite products and raw materials. And the industry can reduce the risk of recycling mandates, taxes or other regulatory requirements, as well as support increased use of its products, by increasing public awareness of the use-phase sustainability benefits of composites. Looking to the future, the industry should continue to support development of recycling technologies and logistics that provide high-value products and are economically and environmentally sustainable. John Schweitzer is senior advisor to the president at ACMA. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on ACMA’s Climate Impact Project, visit acmanet.org/acmas-climateimpact-project/ See LIVE demos from Composites One and the Closed Mold Alliance at Booth L23 during CAMX 2022 in Anaheim, CA, October 17-20. Composites One • Aerovac • MVP • RTM North Technologies KNOWLEDGE IS POWER AND WE HAVE THE DEMOS THAT CAN HELP YOU ATTAIN IT. CMP-489 1/4 PG CM Summer 3.4x4.75 CAMX Demo ad FINAL.indd 1 7/18/22 4:40 PM
CAMX, the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, is where business and innovation meet in one encompassing event. CAMX brings together business leaders and decision-makers with scientists, engineers, technicians, manufacturers and suppliers to shape the future of the composites and advanced materials industry. Conference: October 17-20, 2022 Exhibition: October 18-20, 2022 Anaheim, California GAIN NEW INSIGHTS AND FRESH PERSPECTIVES WHAT TO EXPECT 500+ manufacturers and suppliers 100+ education sessions 65 product categories CUTTING-EDGE technology & innovations NEW commercial & industrial applications KEY developments & trends LIVE manufacturing demonstrations NETWORKING & exchange of ideas MEET GENERAL SESSION SPEAKER, MIKE STEEP Business leader and renowned author with a 30+ year career working with Apple, Microsoft, BMW, Google, and Airbus. theCAMX.org/why-attend GOOD DAY, CAMX! PANEL DISCUSSION Wednesday, October 19, 2022 Good Day, CAMX! will present a lively panel discussion, “Take Off with Good Day CAMX and Re:Build Manufacturing” led by Re:Build Manufacturing, along with Elroy Air and Victrex. This panel will share an exciting collaboration that has produced next-gen aerospace certified structures and is leading the adoption of thermoplastic materials. New this year, Good Day, CAMX! is open to all registered attendees and exhibitors. PANELISTS: Miles Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of Re:Build Manufacturing Jay Wakenshaw, Chief Operation Officer of Elroy Air Jonathan Sourkes, Head of Sales of Aero SBU, Victrex MODERATOR: Marcy Offner, Composites One Tuesday, October 18, 2022 This year’s presentation by Michael Steep, “Supply Chain and the Role of Composites and Advanced Materials” will address how to turn current supply chain disruption into new opportunities for the industry. The General Session is open to all attendees and exhibitors.
WORLD-CLASS EDUCATION MAKE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS NOW TO BEAT INFLATION REGISTER NOW AND SAVE Early Bird rates are available through September 17. thecamx.org/conference-program CAMX’s extensive education programs and sessions will focus on addressing supply chain issues and finding new opportunities for your organization to maintain growth and get ahead of disruptions. Featured Sessions cover the industry’s hottest topics for continued growth. Pre-Conference Tutorials get immersive with a three-hour skill-improvement format covering a single composites and advanced materials processing related topic. Great for young professionals’, anyone new to the industry, or even seasoned individuals seeking specialized education. Education Sessions include 55-minute presentations focused on case studies, best practices, and more. Technical Papers present formal written research papers addressing critical areas from business, applications, and research perspectives. 2022 CONFERENCE TRACKS INCLUDE: • Additive Manufacturing • Advances in Materials • Bonding and Joining • Business, Regulatory, and Workforce Development • Design, Analysis, and Simulation • Green and Sustainability • Manufacturing & Processing Technologies • Market Applications • Non-Destructive Evaluation & Testing THE CAMX EXHIBIT HALL: A PLACE LIKE NO OTHER HOTEL RESERVATIONS Book through the official CAMX Housing Bureau, Conference Direct for discounted hotels. Reserve your room by September 26 for the best rate. TAKE A BIZCATION IN CALIFORNIA Anaheim is the perfect place to work and play. Many CAMX hotels are walking distance from the Convention Center and Disneyland. Beautiful beaches, shopping and golf courses are just a short drive away. Airfare prices continue to soar as fuel costs rise across the globe. Lock in your travel savings now and book smart using travel apps like Hopper and websites like Google Flights. thecamx.org/registration 500+ EXHIBITING COMPANIES 65 PRODUCT CATEGORIES With hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers on display, CAMX is a unique experience that makes it easy to explore solutions in-person that you might not be able to discover otherwise. The exhibit hall is filled with opportunities to meet new suppliers and to find the best innovations to support your production requirements. Watch live process demos, see composite materials first-hand, and engage with interactive displays on how the future is forming. The CAMX Theater and CAMX Park Place located on the showfloor feature gathering spaces to learn, network and connect with industry experts.