New surface treatments for recycled carbon fiber

UK firm awarded grant to support new lightweight composites made from rescued carbon fiber.

Oxford Advanced Surfaces (OAS, Kidlington, UK), a specialist surface modification and advanced materials company, has been awarded a £233,000 (US$336,277) government grant by Innovate UK (Swindon, Wiltshire, UK) to develop new surface treatments that can be used to create new lightweight composites from reclaimed carbon fiber.

The grant supports the Integrated Delivery Program 12 (IDP12) initiative and OAS has won backing in the ‘light weighting’ category that supports feasibility studies into how the weight of vehicles – and therefore CO2 emissions – can be appreciably reduced.

Scientists at OAS have started working in collaboration with The University of Manchester, a center that has extensive skills in composite processing and testing, to deliver its Innovate UK-backed feasibility study.

“We’re delighted to be part of a such an important project that could not only revolutionize the way vehicles are produced in the future, but also have a massive impact on the environment and the UK economy,” explains Philip Spinks, OAS chief executive officer.

“We’re extremely excited to be working alongside our colleagues at The University of Manchester on this project and our focus will be on creating new surface treatments that can be used to make outstanding composites from rescued carbon fiber. The potential is very exciting because using rescued materials is great for the environment and is economical because it’s finding a higher value-add application for a recycled product.”

OAS will use carbon fiber that has been reclaimed from a variety of waste sources during its feasibility study and the Oxfordshire-based company is confident it can deliver a new composite specification that will bring significant benefits to the automotive industry.

Dr Jon-Paul Griffiths, OAS technology manager, says, “Recovered composites do exist, but our challenge is to use our expertise in surface treatment to develop a new breed of composite.

“The target is to be able to give the OEMs access to new materials that are suitable for use in a number of automotive applications, rather than just a handful. This evolution will prove beneficial when they are addressing the challenge of balancing performance, weight and cost.”

Oxford Advanced Surfaces has 18 months to complete its "rescued carbon fiber for use in the automotive industry" feasibility study. It aims to develop data sheets and prototypes that will highlight uses for the new composite material it will develop.