The applications of composite materials are rapidly growing. In the aeronautical sector, composites account for up to 50% of the weight of a modern typical commercial aircraft. However, the amount of composites currently recycled is less than 5% of the total amount produced. With environmental concerns becoming an increasingly influential topic, recyclability of composite materials is a key issue. Furthermore, several related European laws have been passed to minimize the environmental impact of composite structures and to make rational use of landfills. In this chapter, the authors analyze recycling techniques for carbon fiber composites with thermoset polymer matrix. The objective is to reuse the fibers in new, lower cost composites with similar properties. Starting from a pyrolysis step, followed by oxidation, an evaluation of the different parameters of the recycling process has been performed. The characterization of the fibers includes tensile tests, scanning electron microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. The recycled fibers presented a reduction of their initial tensile strength lower than 10%. Then, remanufacturing of laminates using the recycled fibers was achieved by resin film infusion, obtaining laminates with properties similar to the brand-new composites. These results have the potential to be exploited by the automotive, aeronautical, wind energy, construction, and other sectors.
Part of the book: Recent Developments in the Field of Carbon Fibers