• Welcome to engineeringclicks.com
  • Recycling/End of Life for Carbon Fibre?

    Discussion in 'Plastic moulding' started by john12, Dec 9, 2018.

    1. john12

      john12 Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      368
      Likes Received:
      0
      Hi,

      I'm a pretty avid cyclist and lots of my cycle buddies love their carbon fibre frames and parts, but this got me thinking about what happens at the end of its life.

      As far as I know, carbon fibre isn't biodegradable or easily recyclable... so if your bike breaks (or you scrap your car with its lovely carbon fibre trim) what happens to it? Does it mostly just go to landfill?

      I've Googled a few stories but most of them seem to basically be marketing bumf by Carbon Fibre companies.

      I know these materials are great when in use, but I think we all have to take a little responsibility for what happens to our possessions after we get rid of them. I was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this wonder material!?
       
    2.  
    3. Obashb

      Obashb Member

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      14
      Likes Received:
      0
      Carbon fibers do undergo recycling. Being a material still under development, most of the research is geared towards improving strength, reducing overall weight and giving the composites sound structural properties for a variety of applications.

      That notwithstanding, the rising quantity of carbon fiber waste in landfills may be attributed to slow development in carbon fiber recycling, complexity of recycling process and the cost-to-benefit analysis of the existing recycling methods.

      Here is a list of the current recycling approaches:

      Mechanical recycling: the waste carbon fiber is reground and reused as epoxies. They are usually used for non-critical operations.

      Pyrolysis: The waste carbon fiber is decomposed under high temperature conditions. It is estimated however that this method consumes just about 10% less energy compared to production of virgin carbon fiber.

      Solvolysis: A method that relies on use of special chemicals to dissolve recovered carbon fiber waste. Usually employs the usage of hazardous/ special chemicals, implying the need to undertake the operation in well secured and secluded recycling plants. It also needs the use of specialized equipment.

      Sylvolysis is also undertaken in high pressure, high temperature conditions.

      Am pretty sure if you are very much interested in research on carbon fiber waste recycling, you will be able to find a number of articles on the above three methods already in use. Equally, it’s a field you can come up with even better techniques, tailor made for specific parts fabricated using carbon fiber.
       
    4. john12

      john12 Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      368
      Likes Received:
      0
      Hmmm, so basically all of those methods don't sound ideal.

      I suppose it's hard for materials scientists because on one hand you want to develop something new, exciting and useful but then lots probably don't consider the negative aspects of their work. Take plastics for instance - they are a wonder material, that has totally revolutionised our world... but they're also an ecological disaster.
       
    5. MSHOfficial

      MSHOfficial Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Nov 2018
      Posts:
      237
      Likes Received:
      0
      I think you need to first fully develop the material before you start thinking what to do with it after you are done using it.

      Firstly, because if a material is under development, you don’t fully know its properties and everytime you change something in the component of a structure you would need to change the whole process of recycling it.

      Sometimes, even using different epoxies makes the structure non recyclable. So first things first, develop the material to a point where its universally used. And then find methods to recycle it when you are done using it.

      Its just my humble opinion and I know probably most of the people disagree with me. But well, this is what I think.
       
    6. Obashb

      Obashb Member

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      14
      Likes Received:
      0
      New technology is always exciting, especially if the results from the research seek to solve years and years of unsuccessful trials. Can you imagine the number of problems that have been solved either directly or indirectly by carbon fibers, and even the plastics?

      On the downside though, very little effort is always made on the side of waste recovery. I think it is human nature to celebrate the little success we achieve in the field of research that we forget the aftermath. Who knows, maybe in years to come the biggest worry wouldn’t have to be plastic waste, but rather carbon fiber waste.

      In as much as efforts are already being made, I tend to think that the funding and attention paid to resolving impact of carbon fiber waste is still low as compared to the efforts put in improving production and strengthening its structural capabilities and range of use.

      Saying the methods are ideal can be a subject of discussion, simply because there are few enterprises and people who have already taken the path of carbon fiber recycling. Interesting though is that both you and me have an opportunity to venture deeper and try evaluate superb recycling measures. Cheers.
       
    7. john12

      john12 Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      368
      Likes Received:
      0
      Yeah, definitely. These materials are definitely a net-positive, I think... but we just need to think of a way of building the cost of disposal into them.

      I think that this should go for all products really. Would people upgrade their phone every single year if the cost actually included proper recycling or disposal?
       
    8. GoodCat

      GoodCat Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Nov 2018
      Posts:
      95
      Likes Received:
      0
      I think only in some countries it will be disposed of properly. Most countries will simply increase the cost of goods for consumers and still continue to bury it in the ground.
      People 2,000 years ago burned pots and erected cities, now archiologists dig it out and make conclusions about people's lives in the past. What do you think, what the descendants will think about us when they dig it all out = (
       
    9. john12

      john12 Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      368
      Likes Received:
      0
      I guess the difference is that the pots were made from clay/earth. They didn't leach dangerous chemicals into the ground and enter to food system by being eaten by all of the animals that we depend on for food!
       
    10. Obashb

      Obashb Member

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      14
      Likes Received:
      0
      Attaching a recycling fee on a product sounds like a cool idea. But I think nothing beats policy. Having sound recycling policies attached to every new product will always go a long way in averting environmental pollution. That alongside positive awareness on need to recycle will definitely counter the big problem that is pollution.
       
    11. john12

      john12 Well-Known Member EngineeringClicks Expert

      Joined:
      Dec 2018
      Posts:
      368
      Likes Received:
      0
      Yeah, I agree... but that still needs paying for somehow. I just think that it should be paid for by the direct purchaser, not by some random government disposal scheme (in rich countries) or the poor health of people living near dumps (in poor countries), or the overall health of our global environment (in the case of emissions created during production).
       

    Share This Page

    1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
      Dismiss Notice