Farapack was approached by Sustainable Sailing in 2021 with a view to exploring the recyclability of sailcloth. Sails are a composite material consisting of carbon fibres, Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene fibres and a polyester matrix. The ultimate objective was to separate the sails into component materials, as far as practicable, for reuse. An initial literature review was conducted in order to assess the feasible routes to recycling, and a plan of action was put in place after discussions with the client. Catapult funding (specifically aimed at SMEs) was accessed via collaboration with The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in order to set up a small-scale trial with Longworths using their high-pressure steam hydrolysis capabilities which, as a chemical- and solvent-free route is considered to be environmentally friendly. Initial analyses via infra red spectroscopy and microscopy reveal promising results.
Working to solve supply chain issues
Farapack was approached by a leading medical device manufacturer in March 2022 to see if they could supply a speciality polymer previously produced for a number of years in another country, when this supply chain became problematic at very short notice. The polymer in question is a crucial component of a more complex system and Farapack were able to perform kilogram scale syntheses of the polymer, plus analysis to specification, and deliver it to the customer within 3 months of initial contact being made. A similar polymer using an alternative starting material has subsequently been produced and analysed. Each batch is currently undergoing extensive testing by the customer but the preliminary results are sufficiently promising for the client to invest in the bulk purchase of starting materials with a view to an ongoing partnership with Farapack. Confirmation has now been received confirming the progression to a more formal supply arrangement.