Global carbon fibre demand is estimated to more than double to 150-180,000 tonnes by 2020. However, current manufacturing technologies result in approximately 30% of the overall carbon fibre demand becoming waste during the conversion and component manufacturing phases.
The remaining fibre will go into finished parts that that will have to be disposed of at end-of-life. As CFRP composites are now being used in components with shorter lives, end-of-life can be anything from 2-40 years.
Slideshow of steps involved in the Carbon Fibre recycling process
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The recovery and subsequent re-introduction of recycled carbon fibres into the supply chain has 3 key drivers:
Affordability - Economic conversion of both manufacturing waste and end of life components into carious recycled carbon fibre formats, technically suitable for many applications, makes lightweight carbon fibre composites more affordable.
Supply Chain Security - The use of recycled carbon fibres mitigates any supply side capacity risk by providing significant additional carbon fibre tonnage from existing production capacity.
Legislation and Environmental Responsibility - In the automotive industry, EU legislation requires 85% of a vehicle to be recyclable. Carbon fibre waste can be recovered and converted to new products using less than 10% off the energy required to produce the original carbon fibre, fulfilling legislative and sustainability targets.