Body armour is a vital piece of equipment used in the defence, security, and humanitarian sectors. Over 2 million units are produced each year, sometimes with an upwards cost of £2000 per unit. The procurement value for the UK’s next body armour order alone is estimated at £330 million. Unfortunately, body armour only has an average shelf life of 5 years, after which it is incinerated or sent to landfill which is a huge waste both economically and environmentally.
Most body armour is made from highly advanced materials, such as para-aramid (commercial names include Kevlar and Twaron), carbon fibre, and ceramics: materials that can be incredibly expensive with large environmental footprints.
Para-aramid can cost 80 times more than steel, and Carbon emissions for the production of aramids currently stands at 1.27 million tonnes of CO2 per year. To offset that amount of carbon emissions you would need to plant 15 million tree seedlings, and even then it would take a further 10 years of growth just to offset that year’s emissions.
The reality is that the global defence industry is facing a pressing advanced material shortage, with supply chains becoming more fragile and expensive every year. The need for a long-term solution has become imperative, and Uplift360’s circular processing holds the key. By reusing available materials which would ordinarily be scrapped, Uplift360 increases defence resilience for a wide variety of partners while also reducing cost and environmental impact.
“We have been treating these wonder materials as disposable, sending them to landfills or incinerating them on a massive scale, incurring millions in costs and causing extraordinary harm to our environment. The developing geopolitical landscape has demonstrated that we can no longer afford to be reliant on external supply chains to deliver with certainty. The defence sector has recognised this, and that’s why they are backing our solution” – Jamie Meighan, Uplift360 Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
Currently, the global aramid fibre market is estimated to be worth €3.1B and is projected to grow to €6B by 2026, with defence and security having the largest market share.
Advanced materials such as carbon fibre, composites and para-aramids are often expensive to manufacture, deplete finite natural resources, and are ecologically damaging in CO2 emissions and pollution. There are very few ways we can recapture this value if we take these materials out of the supply chain at the end of their life, so it is necessary we find some way to reuse them.
Uplift360 have uniquely specialised in defence, material science, and circular economics, placing them at the forefront of defence’s sustainability solutions. While the defence market is notoriously closed to outsiders, Uplift360 leverages the knowledge and expertise of its military veterans and operators to gain insights and build connections where others can’t, developing a novel technology that is fit for purpose.
Uplift 360’s focus is to remove waste from the equation, establishing a closed-loop system to increase operational effectiveness and preserve the health of the planet.
The company owns the IP for Kevlar chemical regeneration and Kevlar depolymerisation which are both innovative and sort after technologies. Prior art searches and extensive literature reviews have been conducted, yet no technologies compare to Uplift360’s process. Many are dependent on high-energy disassembly, corrosive solvents or simply don’t have the recycling capabilities needed to make products truly circular. Uplift360, on the other hand, has functional regeneration technology and has just reached the proof-of-concept stage, with secured funding from the UK Ministry of Defence and the confidence of the industry to deliver solutions.
“In a world that has a finite amount of material resources, we enable defence to secure their supply chain by developing low energy technologies to regenerate and reuse materials for as long as possible. This reduces our reliance on other nations whilst also reducing our environmental impact. We are also looking at new ways to design products so that the materials can be more readily available for reuse, and developing new materials that are lightweight and high strength while also having less reliance on fossil fuels for their production.” – Sam Staincliffe, Uplift360 Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder