This challenge seeks novel, economically viable, and ecologically sustainable solutions for recycling or reusing glass fiber-reinforced plastic in a manner that is energy efficient and recovers as much material as possible (diverting from landfill).
Sponsoring Department: Transport Canada (TC)
Funding Mechanism: Grant
Opening date: October 18, 2018
Closing date: December 12, 2018, 14:00 Eastern Standard Time
Canada currently lacks feasible options for recycling and disposing of glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP ala fiberglass) used in vessel hulls. The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates there are over 6M pleasure craft in use in Canada. A large percentage of these vessels are constructed using fiberglass. A study on ship recycling capacity in Canada (Vard Marine Inc, 2016) estimates that over 43,000 vessels reach end-of-life each year. This includes those built with fiberglass. Most of these end up in a landfill, and since the number of vessels reaching end-of-life each year is expected to grow, the need for proper recycling and disposal is increasing.
Research shows that physical crushing & fiber recovery (such as solvolysis) are potential management practices for fiberglass. However, economical and environmentally sustainable methods for doing so have not been established. We are looking for novel solutions that address these challenges, either through open or closed loop recycling or through the reuse of the GFRP. Emphasis should be placed on developing techniques that are cost effective, energy efficient, and can divert these products from landfill.
Desired outcomes and considerations
A successful solution must present a novel approach that has the capability of adding market value to end-of-life GFRP vessels, potentially through:
- Developing economically viable end-uses for GFRP;
- Maximizing the quality of materials recovered; and
- Identifying products that can incorporate vessel materials that currently do not have a viable market.
Competitive solutions must be:
- Commercially viable at competitive market prices;
- Ecologically and socially responsible;
- Divert end products from landfill; and
- Have a design that works in various climatic conditions.
Background and context
The National Research Council "Design for End of Life" Technical Report (2017) identifies these key barriers for recycling GFRP from vessels:
- Materials: Current materials are difficult to recycle
- Economic: Recycled fiber costs more than virgin materials
- Infrastructure: Recycling infrastructure is specialized, rare and costly
- Lack of End-Use: There are few viable uses for the products of recycling
- Incentive: Landfill is cheaper than recycling
The issue of recycling vessels has two key parts, improving vessel design for end-of-life and disposing/recycling of the existing fleet of GFRP vessels. Initial research identified alternative materials to improve a vessel's end-of-life design (e.g., biodegradable materials) however, more research and a thorough market analysis of potential alternative materials is still needed.
Due to the number of expected GFRP vessels reaching end-of-life each year, the priority must be to develop a solution to manage the existing GFRP vessel fleet. The materials used to produce GFRP make its recycling extremely energy intensive and uneconomical. The infrastructure is specialized, rare, and costly; and the lack of end-uses for its products means manufacturers will continue to choose cheaper, higher quality virgin materials.
Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the 5-year Abandoned Boats Program (ABP) at Transport Canada provided research grants to advance vessel recycling and environmentally responsible vessel design in Canada, targeting innovative designs, processes, and/or products that add market value to end-of-life vessels. The research will help maximize the recycle/salvage value of vessels at their end-of life, while encouraging the growth of green industry in Canada. A successful solution will complement the research supported under the ABP, by targeting specific barriers or challenges faced in recycling or reusing GFRP. Note that trends suggest the glass fiber market will be worth 18.75B USD by 2022, and that while this challenge targets GFRP vessel hulls, a solution here would benefit the automotive, industrial, construction, food, paper, and aerospace & defence industries in Canada and around the world that face similar difficulties.
In April 2018, during the International Maritime Organizations Marine Environmental Protection Committee 72, the ongoing problem of marine plastic pollution was recognized, and a new output to develop an action plan to address the issue of marine plastic litter from shipping was accepted.
This output is pursuant to the UN SDG 14 target to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025. As recognized in the G7 Communique, plastic waste and marine litter pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems, and healthy oceans and seas directly support the livelihoods, food security, and economic prosperity of billions of people. Throughout its G7 Presidency, Canada will advance global and domestic action on marine plastic litter and ocean preservation.
GFRP are made of resilient substances, incredibly durable, energy intensive and do not break down naturally; thereby making them a suitable building material but also incredibly difficult to reuse or recycle at end-of-life. Canada currently does not have sufficient capacity to properly handle fiberglass waste, and without a long-term disposal strategy, vessels will fill up landfills, or be abandoned in fields and waterways. As national efforts to remove these vessels from the water intensifies, identifying and developing a suitable method for recycling becomes an increasing priority.
Both mechanical recycling and fiber recycling/reclamation of GRFP come with their own inefficiencies and issues.
For mechanical recycling, it often results in an end product that is shipped to landfill when it cannot be used in the manufacturing of other products (e.g., concrete). When used in other products, it is structurally weaker, thereby reducing options for reuse, and by extension, forcing its price points to be lower. This results in smaller returns on investment (unlike the reuse of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic).
Fiber recycling/reclamation involves separating out glass fibers by either thermal/heat or chemical means; the major sub-techniques being Pyrolysis, Fluidized Bed Processing, and Solvolysis. Each of these techniques requires high levels of heat and/or chemical solvents – both of which can result in detrimental effect to the environment and can pose high safety risks for employees. They are also energy intensive operations producing low value recyclables, and the recyclables created may be less structurally sound due to damage and material loss, once again making the process economically unviable, when compared to the use of virgin feedstocks.
One of the most economical and technologically promising choices, currently being used in Europe, is to use grounded GFRP to fuel cement kilns and then use the separated glass fibers as aggregate in the production of cement. The major drawback of this option is that the use of separated glass fibers as aggregates weakens the cement and therefore limits the product to non-structural uses, diminishing its economic value. In addition, the burning of the matrix to separate resin from glass fibers results in the release of harmful combustion by-products similar to those released in traditional incineration.
Maximum value and travel
Maximum grant value
Multiple grants could result from this Challenge.
Funding of up to $150,000.00 CAD for up to 6 months could be available for any Phase 1 grant resulting from this Challenge.
Funding of up to $1,000,000.00 CAD for up to 2 years could be available for any Phase 2 grant resulting from this Challenge. Only eligible businesses that received Phase 1 funding could be considered for Phase 2.
This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total maximum funding value.
No travel is anticipated
Progress Review Meeting
Final Review Meeting
Solution proposals can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:
- for profit
- incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
- 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employeesFootnote *
- research and development activities that take place in Canada
- 50% or more of its annual wages, salaries and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in CanadaFootnote *
- 50% or more of its FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of workFootnote *
- 50% or more of its senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residenceFootnote *
Part 1: Mandatory and Minimum Pass Mark Criteria
Proposals must meet all mandatory criteria (Questions 1a and 2) and achieve the minimum pass mark for Question 3 in order to be deemed responsive and proceed to Part 2.
1 a. Scope
Describe your proposed solution and how it responds to the challenge. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which your solution is proposed and clearly identify how your solution meets all of the EssentialOutcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes and Considerations section in the Challenge Notice.
Mandatory - Pass/Fail
2. Current Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
Mandatory - Pass/Fail
Pass: The Applicant/Bidder has demonstrated that the proposed solution is currently between TRLs 1 and 4 (inclusive), and provided justification by explaining the research and development (R&D) that has taken place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.
Fail: The Applicant/Bidder has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current TRL is between 1 to 4 (inclusive) including:
Describe the novelty of your solution and how it advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including competing solutions.
Point Rated with Minimum Pass Mark
The minimum pass mark for this criteria is 4 points.
0 points/Fail: The Applicant/Bidder has not demonstrated that the proposed solution advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including available competing solutions; OR
The stated advancements are described in general terms but are not substantiated with specific, measurable evidence.
Part 2: Point-Rated Criteria
Proposals that do not achieve the overall minimum score of at least 55 points out of a possible 110 points (50%) will be declared non-responsive and given no further consideration.
The overall minimum score is determined by adding the Applicant/Bidder's scores from the following questions together (1b, 3, 4-13).
Describe how your proposed solution addresses the Additional Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes and Considerations section in the Challenge Notice.
If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, Bidders/Applicants will receive 10 points
4. Phase 1 Science and Technology Risks
Identify potential scientific and/or technological risks to the successful development of the proof of concept and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1?
5. Benefits to Canada
Describe the benefits that could result from the successful development of your solution. Applicants/Bidders should consider the potential benefits using the following three categories:
6. Phase 1 Project Plan
Demonstrate a feasible Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.
Note: Phase 1 cannot exceed 6 months and TRL 4.
7. Phase 1 Project Risks
Identify potential project risks (eg. Human resources, financial, project management, etc) to the successful development of the proof of concept and how they will be mitigated?
8. Phase 1 Implementation Team
Demonstrate how your project implementation team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the project plan for Phase 1 by completing the table. A member of the implementation team can have more than one role.
Include the labour rates and level of effort for each member. A day is defined as 7.5 hours of work, exclusive of meal breaks. The labour rates and level of effort will be reviewed as part of the evaluation for Question 10.
If your business were to receive funding from Innovative Solutions Canada, describe what actions (e.g., recruitment strategy, internships, co-op placements, etc.) might be taken in Phase 1 to support the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, visible minorities) in the research and development of the proposed solution.
10. Phase 1 Financial Proposal
Demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.
11. Phase 1 Financial Controls, Tracking and Oversight
Describe the financial controls, tracking and oversight that will be used to manage the public funds throughout Phase 1.
12. Phase 2 Strategy
Describe a realistic strategy for the prototype development if selected to participate in Phase 2.
Responses should include:
13. Commercialization Approach
Describe your overall commercialization approach for the proposed solution.
Responses should include:
Questions and answers
All incoming questions regarding a specific challenge will be posted here with the corresponding response.
If you have a question about a challenge, please send it to ISED-ISDE@canada.ca.
You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.
A glossary is also available.