Title Integrated Composite Recycling Process
Source Proc. 38th. SAMPE Tech. Conf.,
Year 2006
Author(s) Gosau, J. M.; Wesley, T. F.; Allred, R. E.
Abstract The recycling of composites on a large scale is an unsolved problem. Currently the material is either ground up into near-worthless fillers, incinerated, or digested using environmentally questionable technology. However, the vast majority of composite scrap is landfilled. Adherent Technologies, Inc. has developed a number of technologies to reclaim valuable carbon fiber and other raw materials from these composites in a potentially economically feasible manner. Since unsorted composite waste contains thermoplastic and thermoset polymer matrices, as well as contaminants like metals, paints, and sealants, it is necessary to develop a unified approach that can treat all the materials at once without the need for extensive, and expensive, presorting. To achieve this, the composite waste is being treated in a three step process, including a thermal pretreatment and two wet chemical processes. The investigation of all three processes on a laboratory scale will be discussed. The high price of virgin carbon fiber is the biggest hindrance to the widespread acceptance of these important materials for applications like automotive parts. Several applications with enormous potential for economic success and environmental impact, like carbon fiber based automotive sheet molding compound, would hugely benefit from the availability of cost effective recycled carbon fiber. In addition, the new technology will greatly reduce a waste stream with exponential growth and long-term impact.
Keywords carbon fiber composites, thermosets, thermoplastics, recycling, thermal pretreatment, chopped fiber

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