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UK Consortium Launch Recycled Carbon Fibre Materials at Composites Engineering

07 November 2011

A group of UK companies will be launching a new range of composite materials and products made from recycled carbon fibre at the Composites Engineering Show this week.

The materials, which include aligned yarns, tapes, fabrics and sheets, are made from virgin recovered carbon fibre that would otherwise have gone to landfill and are commingled with thermoplastic resins such as PET. Although these new materials have virtually the same stiffness as virgin materials, they can be offered to the market at a lower cost and they are also beneficial to the environment.

This new family of sustainable carbon fibre materials are the outcome of the recently concluded UK collaborative project, Fibrecycle, which was part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board and involved six partners:  NetComposites, Tilsatec, Sigmatex, Exel Composites UK, Advanced Composites Group Ltd (ACG), part of Umeco Composites Structural Materials (UCSM) – a Division of Umeco plc, and the University of Leeds. The project developed the technology for recovering the waste carbon fibres and converting them into continuous, highly aligned reinforcements, including yarns, woven textiles, non-crimp fabrics, prepreg tapes and pre-consolidated sheets.

Fibrecycle explain that as worldwide carbon fibre composite usage grows, there is concern about the potential tonnage of waste from manufacturing processes and end-of-life products. The waste related to carbon fibre products will quickly reach a significant level to become an important environmental issue, so there is a strong interest in developing processes for recovering and recycling carbon fibre from waste materials.

They say, in common with other thermoplastic composites, the materials can be moulded by simply heating above the melting temperature of the thermoplastic and press-forming between matched tools. Composite laminates made from 50% by weight recycled carbon/PET offer at least 90% of the tensile modulus and 50% of the tensile strength of an equivalent composite based on virgin fibres. In the future, the materials will be available with other thermoplastic matrices such as PP, PA, PEI and PPS. A range of demonstrator products have been produced including press-moulded automotive parts and pultruded profiles.

Project Manager Dr Sophie Cozien-Cazuc of ACG said “The materials that have been developed have a significantly lower environmental impact than virgin carbon fibre, because they divert materials from landfill and do not consume the energy needed to produce new fibres. The properties achieved mean that it is suitable for many applications especially in the automotive, aerospace, sports and leisure, medical and energy sectors”.

The following companies will be displaying the materials and products at the Composites Engineering Show at the NEC in Birmingham on 9th and 10th November 2011:

NetComposites - stand no. 230

Sigmatex - stand no. 939

ACG - stand no. 522

In addition, the materials will be featured at the Open Forum 3 at 12:00-12:20 on Thursday 10th November, when Mohammed Riaz, Development Engineer at NetComposites, will give a presentation describing the materials development and testing in more detail.





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