Carbon fibre recycling
A new carbon fibre reycling technology makes it possible to recover carbon fibres from discarded vehicles and other products. At the same time, it contributes to a satisfy a growing demand for carbon fibres and closing the material loop by offering taylor-made applications for new carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CRP) products.
Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CRP) is an important future lightweight material. It is hard as steel but lighter than aluminum. The Airbus A380, for example, is a lightweight aircraft whose structure and components are made of up to 25 percent of CRP; the planned long-haul aircraft A 350 is made of even more than 50 percent.
CRP, however, is difficult to dispose of. Due to environmental reasons, the landfilling and incineration of CRP highly problematic in Europe. The more carbon fibres are used, the more CRP waste is generated - while the material is urgently needed in the industry.
The CFK Valley Stade Recycling GmbH & Co. KG has developed a method that simultaneously solves the disposal and the supply problem. The company converts carbon fibre-containing production residues and discarded components from all over Europe into high-quality carbon fibers. The CarboNXT GmbH then returnes the fibres to the material cycle in different, customized product variants.
For the recycling dry fiber residues and pre-impregnated fabric structures and CRP parts are sorted and crushed. The process of a highly innovative recycling technology and thermal treatment leads to a complete recovery of the pure carbon fibres which are then refined.
Barriers and Drivers
The world's first industrial cfk recycling plant was established In 2011; the technology was awarded with the German raw material efficiency prize 2011 (Deutscher Rohstoffeffizienzpreis 2011). This will drive the spreading of the technology and attract new actors and investors. The dissemination of the recycling technology will also be a very important step towards utilizing the material for the automotive industry (for lightweight production) which is only in the testing phase yet but needs to have a proven recycling technology in order to start mass production of vehicles with cfk.
Today, the highest quality carbon fiber recycling CarboNXT GmbH products are sold in the international market. It is expected that material from all over Europe will be recycled in the new plant in Lower Saxony; more than 1,000 tonnes are currently being recycled per year.
6 employees in administration and 10 industrial employees; production started in February 2011.
Waste reduction by complete recovery of carbon fibres.
Deutsche Rohstoffagentur (DERA)