CarboNXT develops industrial-scale recycling process for Covestro CFRTP composites
Recycled polycarbonate composite material is blended with new polycarbonate, offering similar properties to virgin materials, saving raw material resources and contributing to the circular economy.
The recycled polycarbonate composite is blended with new polycarbonate — the light blue granules — to form new plastic products (the black granules in front) which are tested before being launched on the market. The black test specimens, on which mechanical properties such as tensile and flexural strength are measured, serve this purpose. Photo Credit: carboNXT GmbH.
Covestro AG (Leverkusen, Germany) has announced its cooperation with recycling specialist carboNXT GmbH (Wischhafen, Germany) to recycle the waste generated during the production of Covestro’s Maezio brand of continuous fiber-reinforced polycarbonate (CFRTP) composites. Covestro notes that, because the composites consists of different materials that cannot be easily separated from one another, this has become a challenge. Nevertheless, carboNXT has recently developed a recycling process that enables waste to be processed on an industrial scale.
“We are excited about this joint solution, as we cannot process the materials ourselves for technical reasons,” explains Lisa Ketelsen, head of Thermoplastic Composites at Covestro. “By recycling according to type at our partner’s plant, the raw materials can be converted back into valuable products with similarly good properties as those characteristic of virgin materials. The recycling of materials makes it possible to use them again in other products. In this way, we save raw material resources and contribute to the circular economy.”
“Our company has many years of experience in recycling carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastics and has the necessary plant technologies to process such waste,” says Tim Rademacker. “We were, therefore, the partner of choice for this task.” Rademacker is the general manager at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials (MCAM, Zurich, Switzerland) and is also responsible for the carbon fiber recycling business. The subsidiary acquired carboNXT back in August 2020. “From the processed waste we produce high-quality new compounds of carbon fiber-reinforced polycarbonate for Covestro at carboNXT.”
According to Covestro, demand for such recycled products is high because they are valuable raw materials, but also because more industrial customers and consumers are looking for more sustainable products. The project will now be further developed to market maturity by Covestro, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and possibly other partners, and is part of Covestro’s global strategic program to advance the circular economy.
There are numerous methods for fabricating composite components. Selection of a method for a particular part, therefore, will depend on the materials, the part design and end-use or application. Here's a guide to selection.
Commercial production of recycled carbon fiber currently outpaces applications for it, but materials characterization and new technology demonstrations promise to close the gap.
Composites Technology Development's first commercial tank in the Type V category presages growth of filament winding in storage of compressed gases.