University of WarwickRecycling waste carbon fibre (WMG)

Recycling waste carbon fibre (WMG)

How can research help bring new products to market and create local jobs whilst meeting environmental standards?

Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer composites (CFRP) are valuable engineering materials that offer greater strength, stiffness and energy absorption compared with steel equivalents.

CFRP provides more sustainable transportation solutions and reduced carbon emissions. However, Carbon Fibre production and disposal can have a far greater environmental impact than any metal - with up to 40% of CFRP going to landfill.

Professor Kerry Kirwan (WMG), pictured, and his team worked with industrial collaborators to create recycled CF composites with a reduced negative environmental impact.

There have been three key impacts from the research:

  • Impact on production – lower costs to use recycled carbon, alleviating shortages of supply and improved environmental sustainability.
  • Impact on commerce and the economy - because of improved production, industrial partners’ annual sales have grown from £300,000 in 2016 to £2,000,000 in 2020. The research has supported the local economy by protecting and creating jobs in the Midlands.
  • Impact on the environment – the recycling of waste carbon fibre has led to a decrease of 52,700t in carbon dioxide equivalents - the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 11,385 passenger vehicles driven for a year.

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