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Recycling of carbon fibre reinforced polymeric waste for the production of activated carbon fibres

Nahil, Mohamad Anas, Williams, Paul T.
Journal of analytical and applied pyrolysis 2011 v.91 no.1 pp. 67-75
activated carbon, adsorption, aniline, aromatic compounds, carbon dioxide, carbon fibers, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, mechanical properties, methane, nitrogen, oxidation, porosity, pyrolysis, recycling, steam, surface area, temperature, wastes
Composite waste composed of carbon fibres and polybenzoxazines resin has been pyrolysed in a fixed bed reactor at temperatures of 350, 400, 450, 500 and 700°C. Solid residues of between 70 and 83.6wt%, liquid yields 14 and 24.6wt% and gas yields 0.7 and 3.8wt% were obtained depending on pyrolysis temperature. The derived pyrolysis liquids contained aniline in high concentration together with oxygenated and nitrogenated aromatic compounds. The pyrolysis gases consisted mainly of CO₂, CO, CH₄, H₂ and other hydrocarbons. The carbon fibres used in the composite waste were separated from the char of the solid residue via oxidation of the char at two different temperatures and investigated for their mechanical strength properties. The carbon fibres recovered from the sample pyrolysed at 500°C and oxidised at 500°C exhibited mechanical properties which were 90% of that of the original virgin carbon fibres. Steam activation of the recovered carbon fibres was carried out at 850°C at different times of activation. The effect of activation time on BET surface area, activated carbon fibres yield, porosity and the morphological structure of activated carbon fibres was evaluated. A maximum BET surface area of over 800m²g⁻¹ was obtained for the activated carbon fibres produced at 850°C for 5h of activation. Nitrogen adsorption–desorption isotherms showed that the adsorption capacity increased as the activation time increased up to 5h of activation and then after that decreased.