The three-year project will research ways to “refine and scale” the process, the center said.
“With global demand for virgin fiber set to exceed supply by 2025, this could ease pressure on supply chains and see the UK take a leading role in defining a new era for composites,” a press release reported.
The NCC says that it has already trialled and tested ways to reclaim and reuse continuous lengths of the material without losing quality. This has led to plans to create three different grades of carbon fiber for different applications.
The aim is to reduce the volume of continuous carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) material sent to landfill in the UK by 50% by 2026.
“Famously, the UK leads the world in the industrialisation of carbon fiber manufacturing but has struggled to develop the sector,” said Enrique Garcia, CTO. “We exported much of our expertise – and even our manufacturing infrastructure – to Japan, which was subsequently able to capitalise on a huge growth in US defence spending in the 1980s and, later, a boom in consumer demand for high-end carbon fiber products.
“We now have a unique opportunity to drive forward a new market by industrialising the processes required to recycle carbon fiber – it is imperative that we push hard now to establish this capability in the UK.”
The NCC says that it is looking for partners that could make product demonstrators using reclaimed continuous fiber in order to reduce their manufacturing carbon footprint.