Microwave Pyrolysis of Matrix Polymers
Recycling Carbon Fibers from Composite Materials
The ICT Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Pfinztal, Germany, recently developed a process that uses microwaves for thermal pyrolysis of the matrix, in order to recycle carbon fiber-reinforced composite materials. This allows the user to separate the fibers from the matrix effectively. While microwaves heat up the materials volumetrically, independent of heat conductivity, pyrolysis takes only a few seconds, even for thick components. Thanks to this short period of time, no damage is caused to the carbon fibers. They maintain their textile structure as fibers, bonded fabric or textile, and can thus be separated. The figures show the individual carbon fiber layers. Microwaves heat up the component, and not the environment, which is why very little heat is lost, making the process extremely energy efficient.
Research on thermal process technology with microwaves is mainly concerned with adapting the microwave unit to the products to be heated, in order to master the intrinsic limitations of the microwave system. Products can then be heated in a more controlled and reproducible way, and the benefits incurred in microwave application, i.e. volumetric, non-contact heating independent of heat conduction, can be utilized entirely.
Fraunhofer-Institut für Chemische Technologie ICT
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