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Latest news EcoHub - a Sustainable Initiative in Composites
EcoHub - a Sustainable Initiative in Composites

Guided by a circular economy approach and a keen awareness of when products reach the end of their functional lifespan, Hexagon Ragasco made the move from simple rhetoric to real action. The result is EcoHub - a hub for innovation in recycled composites.

Composite materials are used in cars, boats, trains, bridges, wind turbines and aeroplanes. Renowned for their exceptional strength, durability, rigidity and lightweight properties, composites represent a valuable addition to the spectrum of lightweight materials in which Raufoss's industry demonstrates expertise. Previously, disposing of the material may have posed a challenge. However, with the advent of EcoHub, this issue has since been resolved.

For many people, this concept is associated with summer barbecues or as a painted product

Gas Canister

Margrethe Skattum is Head of Research and Sustainability at Hexagon Ragasco, the manufacturer of the container commonly found underneath the gas grill. Around the globe, there are 20 million of these containers distributed across 100 countries spanning five continents. They serve a wide range of purposes, from cooking to home heating, while also competing with the traditional steel gas container.


A Circular Approach
The primary challenge of the project lies in handling the container when it reaches the "end of life" stage—meaning it is no longer usable as a pressure tank.The question arises: what should be done with the surplus material and the residual waste, which holds significant value?

This involves determining how to manage scrap from production and returns as well as reintegrating materials back into product components. Fundamentally, composite materials can be repurposed into items such as manhole covers by means of mechanical grinding the recycled materials.


Margrethe Skattum - Former Head of Research and Sustainability at Hexagon Ragasco


EcoHub is born
Skattum has spearheaded the project, securing support from entities like Innovation Norway, SIVA, Miljøfondet and other stakeholders invested in similar initiatives. Together, they've raised capital for testing, prototyping and development efforts.

- This may not be a core business for Hexagon Ragasco, but we're deeply committed to finding a reuse solution that adds value downstream. We've started the process of grinding down the products, collaborating with experts from NTNU, SINTEF, Katapulten at Raufoss as well as with various other stakeholders across the value chain. We're taking tangible steps to progress from mere words to action, Skattum explains.

The EcoHub is working toward its vision as a central hub with a national reach. Residual products will undergo grinding and be integrated into a circular value chain. Using a shredder to break down the composite and a grinder to further refine the material particles, opportunities for utilising the residual products can be explored. EcoHub embodies innovation in the utilisation of recycled composite materials.


New Fields of Application
- The potential applications for composites are manifold, given their unique properties such as high strength, lightweight construction and durability. Unlike traditional materials, composites are resistant to corrosion and are able to withstand water and humid conditions without risk of deterioration. 

- The EcoHub initiative aims to explore global products that can leverage the clear advantages of composites. Environments like offshore operations and fisheries, where rust can be a significant issue, are prime examples.  Outdoor furniture, irrigation systems and wine coolers can be other relevant products. The only limit will be creativity!

Adrian Strandlie, HSE Manager at Hexagon Ragasco, is part of the team driving the EcoHub project forward.

- What I find particularly elegant is the way that a challenge for us in the form of production scraps becomes a solution for other stakeholders. EcoHub represents a collaborative effort that benefits both the environment and businesses. It's truly a circular economy project which brings significant benefits. 

No Burden on the Environment

Hexagon Ragasco began manufacturing gas cylinders in 2000, these products have been available on the market for 22 years and are still in daily use. They are designed with a life expectancy of more than thirty years, and this estimate is considered conservative. 

-The longevity of composites spans many decades, which is crucial for the carbon footprint of these containers. If you purchase these products today, there will undoubtedly be a solution available when the time comes to dispose of them. Recycled composite material will come to be regarded as valuable in the future, concludes Skattum.


Øivind Hansebråten - CEO of Raufoss Industrial Park

Supported by an Industrial Community

- My view is that the industry is aware of its responsibility and collaborative projects like this are evidence of proactive action. Raufoss Industrial Park, led by NCE Manufacturing and MTNC, serves as a type of national centre for excellence in lightweight materials. Through a culture of knowledge-sharing, a robust research and innovation program and extensive collaboration among companies, we are able to foster enhanced value creation and the emergence of new growth enterprises, explains Øivind Hansebråten, CEO of Raufoss Industrial Park.


"Embracing circular economic thinking like this just makes good business sense."

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