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New process developed for recycling carbon fibre

Disposal difficulties with carbon fibre products such as aircraft and car body parts could be eliminated by a newly developed process that recycles old carbon parts into reusable material.

Developed by Milled Carbon, the system continuously recycles cured and un-cured carbon fibre composites — something considered almost impossible until now.

Historically carbon fibre waste has been either landfilled or incinerated. But working with major composite manufacturers interested in recycling the material, Milled Carbon has designed a method of treating the composites by pyrolysis to remove any resin or binder from the carbon.

The result is a material only slightly lower in properties than virgin carbon fibre that can be used to make new products.

Milled Carbon managing director John Davidson said: “Our aim is to solve the environmentally problematic disposal of waste carbon fibre composites, while also growing our business by supplying carbon fibres to customers that don’t need the stringent physical properties of virgin material.”

The process has created interest from the likes of Boeing and Airbus. Boeing aircraft and composite recycling project manager Bill Carberry said: “Recycling is good for the environment and good for business. This new carbon fibre recovery technology is a great step forward.”

As well as receiving several enquiries from companies who want to use the recycled product, Milled Carbon is also looking at developing forms of the recycled fibre for use in replacement of virgin fibre. And it is working with several UK universities, including Nottingham University, to improve the recycling process.

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