Veteran-run start-up gives military body armour second life

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Photographer: Corporal Andy Benson, RAF - Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

A green tech start-up has developed a process to recycle end-of-life body armour fibres, which could retain high-quality protection for soldiers, reduce emissions and save money.

When body armour used by soldiers expires, it is currently incinerated, resulting in the loss of the valuable fibres.

With the help of nearly £500,000 of DASA (Defence and Security Accelerator) funding, Uplift360, based in London, has developed an eco-friendly and low-energy method to reuse the fibres in the war-zone worn gear instead.

This uses a sustainable system to break down the fibres, often commercially referred to as Kevlar, a strong, heat-resistant synthetic fibre used in armour, while preserving its strength so it can be recycled back into the supply chain.

In future, this breakthrough process could lead to substantial cost savings for Defence. Kevlar is estimated to be 85 times more expensive than steel, so reusing this material brings benefits for both the environment and spending.

Uplift360’s innovative recycling system makes sure that the fibres remain highly versatile for reuse after recycling and have the potential to be reintroduced back into the supply chain, in materials across defence, civilian and humanitarian purposes. This can include airplanes, land vehicles, flame and heat resistance clothing, stab/cut proof clothing, ropes, fibre optics, backpacks and tyres.

Part of the Ministry of Defence, The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), finds and funds innovation to support UK defence and security quickly and effectively, supporting prosperity.

Minster of State for Defence, Baroness Goldie said:

The process designed by Uplift360 is a really good example of how new and intelligent thinking can transform old practices in Defence.

Their innovative approach could reduce wastage, save money and secure supply without compromising on high quality kit for our armed forces.

I look forward to seeing their important work continue to help Defence make even more progress toward reducing emissions.

Jamie Meighan, Uplift360 Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder said:

DASA has been instrumental to the success of Uplift360. From a concept to our initial investment to creating our groundbreaking technology in our labs, DASA has been there every step of the way.

As a Veteran/Spouse startup is was very important from the outset to find funding, mentors and support that understood us as a business, saw the potential of our technology and believed in it.

Supporting Uplift360 clearly shows DASA’s commitment to help achieve a more sustainable future, maintain resiliency and save money for Defence

Uplift360 has a team of five and is growing. As part of the MoD, the funding provided by DASA contributes to its success, in turn delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority of growing the economy.

The Ministry of Defence continues to support the government’s net zero ambition whilst maintaining military capability, through initiatives such as using sustainable aviation fuel, the electrification of vehicles and piloting of solar farms.

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