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Japan pioneers carbon fibre scuba tank recycling

Japanese chemical company Asahi Kasei Group, in collaboration with a group of researchers, has developed a new technology to recycle carbon fibre plastic compounds.

Asahi Kasei’s recycling method relies on an electrolysed sulphuric acid solution to decompose the resin within carbon fibre to recover strands that are identical to the original substance.

The material, derived from small commercially available scuba diving tanks, was extensively tested by researchers at the National Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu College and Tokyo University of Science. They reported no twisting or fluffing of the recyclates, enabling a tank-to-tank circular use through the repeated use of filament winding.

The innovative approach allows for continued use of recycled carbon fibre in high-performance applications and presents an inexpensive, sustainable solution to end-of-life carbon fibre plastic compounds.

Additionally, Asahi Kasei is developing a carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic unidirectional tape to combine recycled carbon fibre with the company’s Leona polyamide resin. Said to be stronger than metal, the tape is designed for use in automobile frames and bodies. A practical application is expected by the end of the decade.

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