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Alasu Es, BSc. Student 

Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Yıldız Technical University

Sustainability of Carbon Fiber Composites & Recycled Carbon Fibers and Recycling Processes of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites

Supervisor: Assoc Prof. Dr. Buğra Çiçek

Recycled carbon fiber (rCF), also known as reclaimed carbon fiber (CF), recovered carbon fiber, or upcycled carbon fiber, is obtained from manufacturing waste and end-of-life composite components. rCF refers to the process of reusing CFs from waste carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) materials, employing mechanical and thermochemical processes. These recycled fibers, despite requiring additional processing, exhibit mechanical properties comparable to glass composites, aluminum, and even virgin CFRPs, retaining at least 90% of its tensile strength without any change in modulus. Its cost is approximately 50% lower than virgin carbon fiber (vCF). The rCF market is growing due to the rise in demand for cost- effective and high-performance materials and stringent government regulations globally but still the awareness about rCF’s benefits is crucial for market expansion. As environmental concerns continue to grow, there is a rising demand for sustainable materials. rCF is gaining popularity as an eco-friendlier option than virgin carbon fiber. The market for rCF is expected to grow at a higher CAGR due to its increasing penetration in automotive, consumer goods, sporting goods, and industrial applications. The automotive & transportation end-use industry dominates the global rCF market. rCF is widely used due to its ability to combine lightweighting with a good surface finish. At present, process time and cost are the stumbling blocks for the industry. The recycling of carbon fiber is becoming increasingly important as the demand for CF grows. New technologies are being developed to make it possible to recycle carbon fiber into new products, reducing waste and the environmental impact of CF production. [1] Mechanical, thermal, and chemical recycling methods have their own limitations in terms of RFs length, surface defects, set-up cost, the feasibility of the process at laboratory scale and industrial scale, and so on. To keep in mind all the limitations of existing recycling methods, researchers focused their interest on hybrid methods that can shrink these limitations. One of the hybrid methods is microwave assisted chemical recycling method, which is considered as a green, energy-efficient, and most sustainable recycling method. [2] Pyrolysis and solvolysis manufacturing techniques are also used to recover carbon fiber from scrap.  Even though these processes have shown excellent results for recycling carbon fiber-reinforced composites at the laboratory scale, further investigations need to be managed to design a cost-effective pilot plant to be used at an industrial scale. [3]

[1]“MarketsandMarkets.” Accessed: Dec. 23, 2023. [Online]. Available:
[2] M. Rani, P. Choudhary, V. Krishnan, S. Z.-C. part B, and undefined 2021, “A review on recycling and reuse methods for carbon fiber/glass fiber composites waste from wind turbine blades,” Elsevier, Accessed: Dec. 23, 2023. [Online]. Available:
[3] D. Borjan, Ž. Knez, M. K.- Materials, and undefined 2021, “Recycling of carbon fiber- reinforced composites—Difficulties and future perspectives,” mdpi.comD Borjan, Ž Knez, M KnezMaterials, 2021•, 2021, doi: 10.3390/ma14154191.

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