Carbon Fibre Recycling in Australasia

Sustainable design is a vital growing trend for current and new buildings in Australasia. This is becoming a conscious decision by both building owners and designers to ensure there is a responsible design that has low or zero waste and high recyclability. This is reflected in the annual awards which set a higher and higher standard of responsible design each year. Monkeytoe aluminum and carbon fibre is used in the manufacture of the Xbeam product - this a very modular design with ability to be fitted onsite without welding, heavy fabrication or paint coatings. Aluminum is a highly recyclable product and when recycled saves more energy than steel (95% vs 74%) it is also more valuable and likely to be recycled. For the small carbon fibre reinforcements the options and recyclability of this material are currently developing rapidly.

JUC surfboards (VIC) manufacture Surfboards from waste carbon fibre.  The founder Dr. Filip Stojcevski has advised Monkeytoe they will have capabilities to manufacture using Xbeam carbon fibre components  by the end of 2021.

JUC surfboards have worked with international partners developing the Solvolysis process which dissolves the polymers and resin leaving undamaged carbon fibre for reuse, a description of the process can be found here.

Sydney University are also developing advanced recycling of carbon fibre for commercialization. This is a further advance on current Pyrolysis methods used in USA and Europe, this is not yet commercialized.

In USA and EU there are large scale research and commercialization projects for carbon fibre with many industries using the recycled carbon for injection molded components  but also in general composite applications. In Europe the amount of carbon fibre recycled commercially exceeds 2,000 tons this not the waste or offcuts but actual recycled carbon fibre.

In the USA the recycling industry is of similar size and recently a number of companies have developed 3D printing filaments using recycled carbon fibre. One company is now offering it on the retail and commercial market HERE.

It is feasible that by the time current Xbeam, products reach their lifespan there will be a well-developed circular economy to reuse both the aluminum and carbon fibre used in their manufacture. It is notable that the Design For Manufacture (Dfma)  principles used for this product are also equally applicable for Design For Deconstruction (DfD) methodology used for sustainable design and Architecture.

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