Main content area

Recycling of carbon fibre reinforced plastics by electrically driven heterogeneous catalytic degradation of epoxy resin

Zhu, Ji-Hua, Chen, Pi-yu, Su, Mei-ni, Pei, Chun, Xing, Feng
Green chemistry 2019 v.21 no.7 pp. 1635-1647
ambient temperature, atmospheric pressure, carbon fibers, catalytic activity, cost effectiveness, electrochemistry, electrolytes, epoxides, equipment, green chemistry, plastics, recycling, shear strength, tensile strength, toxic substances, wastes
The abundant end-of-service-life carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) composites have become an increasingly significant environmental issue, making the key challenge to be how to increase the resource efficiency by turning waste into reusable materials. Existing recycling technologies generally require complicated processes, expensive facilities or toxic chemicals. Moreover, these demanding conditions limit the size of CFRP waste, resulting in greatly reduced commercial value of recycled fibres and less cost-effective applications. Here, we demonstrate a new recycling technology with the benefit of the electrochemical promotion of the catalysis effect, termed the electrically driven heterocatalytic decomposition (EHD) method. Our results show that even by using simple equipment and conventional nontoxic electrolyte components, intact carbon fibres can be efficiently recycled under atmospheric pressure and at room temperature. The residual strength of the reclaimed carbon fibres (rCFs) is close to that of the virgin carbon fibres (VCFs), i.e., a 90% residual tensile strength and 121% residual interfacial shear strength compared with the VCFs. More importantly, the simplicity of the procedure and the moderate requirements of the processing facilities removal of the CFRP waste size limit, significantly improving the commercial value of the recycled fibres and enabling large-scale implementation.