carbon fiber recycling

Our patented green technology helps you recycle 100% of your carbon fiber waste or buy recycled fiber. Carbon Fiber Recycling, Tennessee.

What’s So Special About CFR’s Recycling Facility in Tazewell, TN?

By Doug Griffin

We started working on this equipment in 2012, and have finally achieved what we set out to do, which is to develop the capability to recycle all carbon fiber waste on a continuous flow basis, producing high quality rCF at a price point that could revolutionize the carbon fiber recycling industry.

We exceeded our goals in our longevity testing, and after successful sea trials, we start full commercial production in January, 2024. 

High Quality rCF

There are two main issues that have plagued the rCF industry. The first issue is removing 100% of the epoxies and resin from the recycled fiber, and the second issue is removing the layer of coke that coats the carbon fiber during the pyrolytic process. CFR’s technology has perfected its reactor and fiber polishing technology to deliver the cleanest rCF in the industry. 

Quality of the actual fiber is determined in large part by the quality of carbon fiber fed into the reactor.  We limit our inputs to composites with 50% CF content and containing no glass fiber.  For large orders, companies requiring a particular fiber length can request fiber to spec, and we may be able to accommodate.  We test our fiber onsite and have it verified by third parties.

Batch vs Continuous Flow Production

Up until now, the majority of carbon fiber recycling systems have been batch systems. It is quite easy to create a batch system and that is how we started in the early days. 

The problem with a batch system is that you can never reach economies of scale because you are limited by the size of the reactor and you are always heating up the reactor, processing, cooling and resetting the system. Batch systems use so much energy, and take so much time to produce a small amount, so your product is just too expensive, and not environmentally friendly.

A continuous flow system is like it sounds. We continuously run the reactor 24/7 and we can produce much larger volumes, at a much lower price point. Once we fire up the reactor, and optimize the system for the output, it continues producing rCF in perpetuity, or until we decide to either stop feeding it or decide to turn it off for maintenance. 

This type of reactor is a much more complex system to design, but the benefits are economy of scale. We also have a really low environmental footprint because we use the energy that is generated during the processing to power the reactor. 

Low Price Point

We can now process an enormous amount of material in more efficient ways than a batch system could ever hope to do, and we can process any type of carbon fiber. That lowers our price, keeps the quality high, and at the same consistent rates. 

The lower price point has made rCF companies viable and also created a new market for recycled carbon fiber. Carbon Fiber is lighter and stronger than steel or glass fiber, and is now much less expensive to recycle.  rCF can now be used extensively in concrete to add strength, as well as to heat, as rCF is also has conductive properties. Our fiber is also used extensively in any industry that needs light and strong products such as dashboards for cars, computer cases, and airline tray tables.

It has taken over ten years, and a lot of investment, effort, and prototyping to have these recycling capacities. We are excited to bring this revolutionary technology solution to the world, and to open new markets for rCF in unprecedented quality and quality.

See our FAQ page for more about CFR’s recycling process.

Why Do Companies Choose CFR’s rCF?

By Doug Griffin

People choose our recycled carbon fiber because it is clean, it is high quality, and it is in an easy format for them to use. Our clients use it in different applications depending on what they are building or manufacturing. 

We have received high accolades for our rCF applications in concrete for example. A relatively small amount of rCF can allow concrete to become conductive, allowing runways to heat efficiently and melt snow. In this use case, our fiber meets or exceeds the properties of virgin carbon fiber. This has been verified by third party independent studies. Also rCF in concrete does not corrode, and has better properties than glass fiber.

We have had good results in composites as well, and now the price point is lower, as we have scaled our facilities and we are producing high quality low cost rCF at scale. So why do people use our recycled carbon fiber? It is because it works. It is high quality, and it is now a much cleaner material to work with.

Describe the Recycled Carbon Fiber Product that the CFR Reactor Produces

The recycled carbon fiber product that we produce is a six millimeter random length chopped fiber with a standard deviation of about 2.5mm or less. This is the perfect product to mix with concrete, to pelletize and use when manufacturing composite products. 

We can also adjust the length of the fiber by altering the equipment settings before the fiber enters the reactor. It takes about half an hour to do that internally, and then we can produce that length on a mass quantity basis, whatever length that we decide to make. We can also adjust the kinds of carbon fiber we feed into the reactor. This means our clients can have a customized product suited to their use case. We also produce a precision cut chopped fiber, but the majority of what we produce is random length material in our continuous flow reactor.

Reinventing Structural Durability with Recycled Carbon Fiber

Imagine a world where concrete, an essential building material, becomes dramatically stronger, lighter, and more resistant to environmental wear and tear. What if I told you we’re closer to achieving that than you may think? Welcome to the exciting frontier of recycled carbon fiber-reinforced concrete, a groundbreaking innovation that holds immense potential for transforming the construction industry, as revealed by recent research from the University of Texas.

Testing Recycled Carbon Fiber Reinforced Concrete

According to the UT white paper, carbon fiber-reinforced concrete stands as an attractive alternative for civil infrastructure due to its high strength, light weight, and exceptional resistance to corrosion. Even more remarkable is the potential of ultra-high-performance concrete, which boasts incredible mechanical properties by utilizing randomly oriented steel fibers, improving the overall strength and durability of the material.

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated the successful use of recycled carbon fiber in the production of ultra-high-performance concrete, offering a cost-effective and sustainable solution without sacrificing strength and durability. This breakthrough proves crucial in surmounting the market entry barrier posed by the high cost of virgin carbon fiber.

Virgin vs Recycled Carbon Fiber

From UT investigation:
Different fiber types mixed into concrete. (A) steel fibers; (B) Hexcel carbon platelets; (C) Zoltek carbon fiber; (D) recycled carbon fiber.

However, incorporating recycled carbon fiber into concrete isn’t just a matter of mixing the two. The study carried out an in-depth exploration of process structure-properties relationships to ensure the most effective use of recycled carbon fiber. Factors that could affect the concrete’s mechanical properties, such as pore formation and poor fiber distribution, were meticulously evaluated.

In the mix design experiment, recycled carbon fiber and ultra-high-performance concrete were assessed for mechanical properties. The results were then compared with an aerospace-grade and low-cost commercial carbon fiber utilizing the same mix design. Astonishingly, the recycled carbon fiber held its own, promising a revolution in construction sustainability without any compromise on the overall performance.

Adding a layer of depth to this study, the microstructure of the concrete samples was non-destructively evaluated using high-resolution micro X-ray computed tomography. This process offers 3D quantitative spatial pore size distribution information and detailed insight into fiber clumping, providing an understanding of the intrinsic features of the concrete on a micro level.

As a result, the recycled carbon fiber reinforced concrete exhibited impressive compression, tension, and flexural properties, making it a highly attractive option for robust and resilient infrastructure development.

Greener Building  

So, why should you care about this breakthrough? Because it’s poised to reshape the future of construction, making it more sustainable and affordable without sacrificing strength and performance. It will reduce the carbon footprint of building projects, increase their lifespan, and contribute significantly to a greener and more durable built environment.

Recycled carbon fiber could well be the future of construction, ushering in an era of high-performance concrete that stands the test of time. As manufacturers and developers, it’s an exciting development that we can’t afford to ignore. The opportunity to strengthen our products and contribute positively to the world is truly groundbreaking.

We’re standing on the brink of a significant shift in construction and materials science, powered by recycled carbon fiber. Let’s embrace this revolution together and build a stronger, more sustainable future for all.

Read the UT White Paper:
Patchen A, Young S, Penumadu D (2022) An Investigation of Mechanical Properties of Recycled Carbon Fiber Reinforced Ultra-High-Performance Concrete, MDPI website, accessed 22 July 2023.

We Accept Bobbins and Recycle 100%

When carbon fiber cloth is produced, manufacturers use large bobbins of virgin carbon fiber.  The weaving machines are threaded all at once, with many carbon fiber bobbins.  When one bobbin is finished and needs changing, typically all of the other bobbins are replaced. 

That means many unfinished bobbins are headed for landfill. Carbon Fiber Recycling accepts these used bobbins and can recycle them 100%.

We Can Take All of Your Bobbins!

At CFR we will make sure the unused carbon fiber on your expired bobbins is recycled and reenters the market as a raw material for composites and remanufacturing.  We even recycle the tubes.

“Carbon Fiber is expensive to manufacture.  It require a lot of energy.  None of that carbon fiber should be going to landfills, as we can recycle 100% of it.”

Doug Griffin, Founder

Our goal is to keep carbon fiber out of the landfill, and to create more avenues for carbon fiber waste to be incorporated into manufacturing processes, at a much cheaper price and in a form that is most useful to our clients.  We want to make it easier, and more cost effective to use carbon fiber to improve the specs of our customers’ products. Because our customers come first. It’s that simple.

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