Life Cycle Assessment of a Thermal Recycling Process as an Alternative to Existing CFRP and GFRP Composite Wastes Management Options

Sankar Karuppannan Gopalraj (Corresponding Author), Ivan Deviatkin, Mika Horttanainen, Timo Kärki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There are forecasts for the exponential increase in the generation of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) and glass fibre-reinforced polymer (GFRP) composite wastes containing valuable carbon and glass fibres. The recent adoption of these composites in wind turbines and aeroplanes has increased the amount of end-of-life waste from these applications. By adequately closing the life cycle loop, these enormous volumes of waste can partly satisfy the global demand for their virgin counterparts. Therefore, there is a need to properly dispose these composite wastes, with material recovery being the final target, thanks to the strict EU regulations for promoting recycling and reusing as the highest priorities in waste disposal options. In addition, the hefty taxation has almost brought about an end to landfills. These government regulations towards properly recycling these composite wastes have changed the industries’ attitudes toward sustainable disposal approaches, and life cycle assessment (LCA) plays a vital role in this transition phase. This LCA study uses climate change results and fossil fuel consumptions to study the environmental impacts of a thermal recycling route to recycle and remanufacture CFRP and GFRP wastes into recycled rCFRP and rGFRP composites. Additionally, a comprehensive analysis was performed comparing with the traditional waste management options such as landfill, incineration with energy recovery and feedstock for cement kiln. Overall, the LCA results were favourable for CFRP wastes to be recycled using the thermal recycling route with lower environmental impacts. However, this contradicts GFRP wastes in which using them as feedstock in cement kiln production displayed more reduced environmental impacts than those thermally recycled to substitute virgin composite production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4430
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPolymers
Volume13
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Carbon fibre
  • Composite recycling
  • Glass fibre
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Thermal recycling
  • Waste disposal

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