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Investigation of the potential for catalysed thermal recycling in glass fibre reinforced polymer composites by using metal oxides

Pender, K. and Yang, L. (2017) Investigation of the potential for catalysed thermal recycling in glass fibre reinforced polymer composites by using metal oxides. Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 100. pp. 285-293. ISSN 1359-835X

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    An investigation into catalysed thermal recycling of glass fibre (GF) reinforced epoxy was carried out to improve its commercial viability. Strength degradation was established as a key barrier in retaining the value of fibres after recycling. Several metal oxides were examined to assess their ability at reducing the high operating temperatures currently limiting the reusability of recovered fibres. It is proposed that such a material could be integrated within a thermal recycling system facilitating an increase in fibre residual strength while reducing energy consumption of the process. It was found that CuO, CeO2 and Co3O4 were able to significantly accelerate the thermal degradation of epoxy. When applied to GF-epoxy, both the temperature and time required for fibre liberation were significantly lowered, reducing energy consumption by approximately 40%. The strength of fibres recovered with the aid of the metal oxides was increased, with the full potential for the strength retention yet to be achieved.