Recycling cf

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Recycling cf

  1. 1. Collaborative Research and Development: Materials and Structures Recycling carbon fibre HIRECAR High Value Composite Materials from Recycled Carbon Fibre - researchers on this collaborative R&D project are finding ways to recycle carbon fibre composite materials for use in car manufacture and other applicationsKey benefits high value carbon fibre from end-of-life components and from manufacturing scrap,• reducing the environmental impact typically offcuts of woven ‘prepreg’ - materials• new ways to restrict noise and fuel emissions impregnated with epoxy resin which are typically• finding sustainable solutions to problems that affect used in military aircraft and racing cars. all major uses of carbon fibre Project leader Dr Nick Warrior of the University of Nottingham says: “Much of the tonnage sent to Current annual worldwide carbon fibre UK landfill every year is simply offcuts from the consumption is 30,000 tonnes. The principal manufacturing process, but at present there is no markets are aircraft, racing cars and sporting way of reusing it.” goods. At present there is no way to recycle carbon fibre materials – more than 100 tonnes “These materials can cost as much as £120 a of highly valuable material, either end-of-life kilo. So it is a valuable commodity, which at goods or scrap from manufacture, goes into present is all going to waste. Were hoping to landfill every year in the UK alone. extract the carbon fibre from these materials and use it to create other carbon fibre composites, The high stiffness and strength and low density which themselves can be recycled.” of carbon fibre composites could be used in new designs to reduce the weight and increase the The University of Nottingham is the lead partner safety of family cars, resulting in significant in the project, which also involves: Advanced reductions in emissions and fuel consumption. Composites Group, Dow Automotive, Ford Motor A research project funded by the technology Company, Technical Fibre Products and Toho programme is working on ways to extract the Tenax GmbH. The project started in March 2005 and runs for three years. The Technology Programme is providing £341,637 towards the total cost of the project, which is £926,637. Objectives The aim of the project is to find ways to recycle scrap carbon fibre materials and convert them into useful materials. This will provide a sustainable lifecycle for carbon fibre for use in automotive applications and enable a step-change in design and performance of vehicle structures. Dr Warrior says: “It will help automotive manufacturers meet EU end-of-life directives for
  2. 2. the next generation of vehicles. These state that pressure, and yield for the typical epoxy-based80% of the materials used in a new car have to resins used in composite material manufacturingbe genuinely recyclable. At present, this limits the processes.amount of carbon fibre that can be used invehicles – because there is no viable way to According to Dr Ebby Shahidi, Technical Directorreuse it.” of Advanced Composites Group (ACG), “although the cost aspects and potential properties are yetUse of carbon fibre in cars will reduce the weight to be proven, when scaled up, the outcome ofof vehicles, and so lower fuel consumption. “It the research should provide the compositewill also increase car safety, because the carbon industry with a potentially low cost fibre sourcefibre materials are extremely strong and can that can be used to produce DMC and SMCabsorb much higher levels of impact energy,” products, replacing the current chopped carbonsays Dr Warrior. fibres reinforcements”. He goes on to confirm that, “If the material can be spun into continuousSolutions yarn with competitive properties and costs to carbon fibres, it will significantly expand theThe team has developed two methods for opportunity for increasing the application ofrecovering the carbon fibre materials: The composites to structures such as vehicles, wherepreferred route for end-of-life components is a the weight reduction will have a significantfluidised bed technology where the fibres and positive impact on the industry, bothresin are separated at high temperatures, energy environmentally and commercially. Typicalis extracted from the polymer and the fibres are applications, for example, will be for light-weightleft in a clean condition, but with slightly body panels, chassis structures, etc. in thereduced properties. The use of supercritical automotive sector, numerous components influids on scrap new materials has been studied marine and, potentially, the aerospace industries”.for the first time.Co-investigator Dr Steve Pickering says: “The realblue-sky aspect of this research is based on theuse of supercritical fluids to extract both valuablecomponents: the carbon fibre and the polymer. Project contactsFinding the optimum balance of Supercriticalfluids, pressure and temperature to achieve the Dr Nicholas Warriorbest results with different types of carbon fibre is Reader, University of Nottinghama major aim of the research project. University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RDThe project is looking at three ways of using therecycled carbon fibres: in bulk moulding Tel: 01159 513793compounds for smaller, non load-bearing Email: nick.warrior@nottingham.ac.ukcomponents; as a sheet-moulding compound,where carbon fibre is rolled together with sheetsof polymer; and as recycled materials in load- Collaborative Research and Developmentbearing, 3D shell structures, such as the floorpanof the vehicle. Collaborative Research and Development is one of two DTI business support solutionsResults delivered through the Technology Programme, the other being Knowledge Transfer NetworksDr Warrior says: “Recycled carbon fibres have (KTNs). Its primary objective is to enable thebeen made into bulk and sheet moulding industry and research communities to workcompound forms and have been successfully together in strategically important areas ofmoulded into laboratory-scale samples. science, engineering and technology in order“Were developing this process on a laboratory to develop successful new products,scale. The results so far have been very processes and services. It also enables thepromising. We have extracted useful polymer latest thinking and understanding to flowfrom the compounds and we are all really excited between universities, other research centresabout the progress that is being made.” and business.The team intends to characterise the issues www.dti.gov.uk/innovation/around supercritical fluid type, temperature, technologystrategy/index.html URN 06/2044

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