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Can thermally degraded glass fibre be regenerated for closed-loop recycling of thermosetting composites?

Yang, L. and Saez, E.R. and Nagel, U. and Thomason, J. (2015) Can thermally degraded glass fibre be regenerated for closed-loop recycling of thermosetting composites? Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 72. pp. 167-174. ISSN 1359-835X

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    Commercially manufactured E-glass fibres were heat-conditioned to mimic the effects of thermal recycling of glass fibre thermosetting composites. Degradation in the strength and surface functionality of heat-treated fibres was identified as a key barrier to reusing the fibres as valuable reinforcement in composite applications. A chemical approach has been developed to address these issues and this included two individual chemical treatments, namely chemical etching and post-silanisation. The effectiveness of the treatments was evaluated for both thermal degraded fibres and corresponding composites. Drastic reduction was observed in the properties of the composites with the heat-conditioned preforms indicating thermally degraded glass fibres have no value for second-life reinforcement without further fibre regeneration. However, significant regeneration to the above properties was successfully obtained through the approach developed in this work and the results strongly demonstrated the feasibility of regeneration of thermally degraded glass fibres for potential closed-loop recycling of thermosetting composites.