Development of markets for the commercialisation of a fluidized bed carbon fibre recycling process

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Div of Materials Mech and Structures


The University of Nottingham have developed a fluidized bed process for recycling carbon fibre composite materials. It's unique feature is that it is capable of processing contaminated and mixed waste from end-of-life components. In this project commercial applications for the carbon fibre recyclate will be developed. The recyclate processing route will be to make non-woven fabrics using technology already demonstrated by the Collaborating Partner and then develop end markets for this material.


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Description The aim of the project was to develop markets for recycled carbon fibre from the fluidised bed recycling process developed at the University of Nottingham and then to develop a business plan for a commercial operation. During the project scrap prepreg was shredded and recycled in the laboratory scale fluidised bed test rig at the University of Nottingham and the recycled fibre successfully converted by Technical Fibre Products Ltd into a non-woven fabric. Processing routes and end products were identified for the use of the recycled carbon fibre mat.

A detailed costing exercise has been undertaken to evaluate the capital and operational costs of a commercial recycling plant at a range of sizes. The results are promising and show that the recycling process would be viable at sizes appropriate to quantities of scrap arising in local areas, so avoiding the cost of transport of scrap.

The support provided by EPSRC for the commercialisation project has led to the engagement of Boeing to collaborate in taking the technology to the next stage of commercial exploitation.
Exploitation Route The results of the project have already been taken forward and the Boeing Company have engaged in a Strategic Collaboration with the University of Nottingham which included funding the construction of a larger scale recycling facility to demonstrate technology in a configuration fully representative of a commercial operation to provide realistic and validated data on which to base the design of an operational plant.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Transport

Description Discussions are ongoing with a number of companies at the moment to identify opportunities for commercialization of the carbon fibre recycling process.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment
Description Industrial funding from Boeing
Amount $150,000 (USD)
Organisation Boeing 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 01/2016 
End 11/2016
Description Boeing Strategic Collaboration in Composites Recycling 
Organisation Boeing
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution During the project, a Strategic Collaboration was entered into with Boeing in which they agreed to fund the university $1,000,000 per year for three years to develop composites recycling research and development activities, with a particular aim of increasing the TRL in an number of areas. The Collaboration has a value of $1,000,000 per year until the end of 2015.
Start Year 2011