by Staff Writers
Pullman WA (SPX) May 10, 2017
A WSU research team for the first time has developed a promising way to recycle the popular carbon fiber plastics that are used in everything from modern airplanes and sporting goods to the wind energy industry.
The work, reported in Polymer Degradation and Stability, provides an efficient way to re-use the expensive carbon fiber and other materials that make up the composites.
Planes, windmills, many products
While thermoplastics, the type of plastic used in milk bottles, can be melted and easily re-used, most composites used in planes are thermosets. These types of plastics are cured and can't easily be undone and returned to their original materials.
Caustic chemicals eliminated
The caustic chemicals used are hazardous and difficult to dispose of. They also destroy the matrix resin materials in the composites, creating a messy mixture of chemicals and an additional waste problem.
Mild chemicals, low temperatures
In particular, it was the combination of chemicals that proved effective, said Zhang, who has a chemistry background. To break down cured materials effectively, the researchers raised the temperature of the material so that the catalyst-containing liquid can penetrate into the composite and break down the complex structure. Zhang used ethanol to make the resins expand and zinc chloride to break down critical carbon-nitrogen bonds.
"It is critical to develop efficient catalytic systems that are capable of permeating into the cured resins and breaking down the chemical bonds of cured resins," he said.
Preserving fibers for re-use
Newark DE (SPX) May 10, 2017
Synthetic rubber and plastics - used for manufacturing tires, toys and myriad other products - are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas. But those manmade materials could get a lot greener soon, thanks to the ingenuity of a team of scientists from three U.S. research universities. The scientific team - from the University of Delaware, the Uni ... read more
Washington State University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
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