Friday, July 16, 2010

A quick selection of sites relating to Carbon Fibre recycling. Bottom line - not a widespread practice but it can be done

It's used increasingly in aircraft, cars, laptops and of course my personal favourite - bicycles. But the question is often raised: how do we recycle this stuff?

Well first up, you may not have to - it lasts a long time, given proper care. My 20 year old Look carbon bike is still going strong, whereas my 21 year old custom steel crit bike has long ago been retired due to rust, despite much love and care - and resprays - to extend its life. But if carbon fibre does break or crack and can't be repaired, it can be recycled. It's just a bit more difficult and currently less organised than with "traditional" (and more common) materials such as metals or more straightforward plastics. But it can be done.

The next material to be recycled: carbon fiber? — Autoblog Green
Today, the majority of the material makes its way into airplanes. As these planes become obsolete, companies are currently looking into ways of recapturing that expensive material. The actual method requires that the carbon sheets be shredded so that the desirable fibers can be reclaimed. Auto manufacturers such as Volkswagen are intrigued in the possibility of integrating new lower-cost carbon fiber content into its less expensive products.
Recycled Carbon Fibre Ltd
Welcome to Recycled Carbon Fibre Limited, home of the world’s first commercial scale continuous recycled carbon fibre operation. The UK site is based in the West Midlands and our global expansion plans include the launch of new operations in the US, the EU and the Far East.

Our goal is to help businesses avoid the unnecessary cost of disposing of their scrap waste and end of life carbon fibre composites to land fill or incineration plants. Each alternative has both a cash and an environmental cost. Recycling is a positive action in avoiding long term damage to our environment.

We offer our range of high quality recycled carbon fibre products at competitive prices such that they are an attractive alternative for use in a wide range of industrial applications. We also provide help and advice to clients on how best to incorporate our products into their composite processes.
Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs) have an almost infinite service lifetime when protected from the sun, but, unlike steel alloys, have no endurance limit when exposed to cyclic loading. When it is time to decommission CFRPs, they cannot be melted down in air like many metals. When free of vinyl (PVC or polyvinyl chloride) and other halogenated polymers, CFRPs can be thermally decomposed via thermal depolymerization in an oxygen-free environment. This can be accomplished in a refinery in a one-step process. Capture and reuse of the carbon and monomers is then possible. CFRPs can also be milled or shredded at low temperature to reclaim the carbon fiber, however this process shortens the fibers dramatically. Just as with downcycled paper, the shortened fibers cause the recycled material to be weaker than the original material. There are still many industrial applications that do not need the strength of full-length carbon fiber reinforcement. For example, chopped reclaimed carbon fiber can be used in consumer electronics, such as laptops. It provides excellent reinforcement of the polymers used even if it lacks the strength-to-weight ratio of an aerospace component.