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Environmental aspects of use of recycled carbon fibre composites in automotive applications

Meng, Fanran; McKechnie, Jon; Turner, Thomas; Wong, Kok H.; Pickering, Stephen J.


Fanran Meng

Professor of Engineering Sustainability

Kok H. Wong


The high cost and energy intensity of virgin carbon fibre manufacture provides an opportunity to recover substantial value from carbon fibre reinforced plastic wastes. In this study, we assess the life cycle environmental implications of recovering carbon fibre and producing composite materials as substitutes for conventional and proposed lightweight materials in automotive applications (e.g., steel, aluminium, virgin carbon fibre). Key parameters for the recycled carbon fibre materials, including fibre volume fraction and fibre alignment, are investigated to identify beneficial uses of recycled carbon fibre in the automotive sector.
Recycled carbon fibre components can achieve the lowest life cycle environmental impacts of all materials considered, although the actual impact is highly dependent on the design criteria (? value) of the specific component. Low production impacts associated with recycled carbon fibre components are observed relative to lightweight competitor materials (e.g., aluminium, virgin carbon fibre reinforced plastic). In addition, recycled carbon fibre components have low in-use energy use due to mass reductions and associated reduction in mass-induced fuel consumption. The results demonstrate environmental feasibility of the CFRP recycling materials, supporting the emerging commercialisation of CF recycling technologies and identifying significant potential market opportunities in the automotive sector.


Meng, F., McKechnie, J., Turner, T., Wong, K. H., & Pickering, S. J. (in press). Environmental aspects of use of recycled carbon fibre composites in automotive applications. Environmental Science and Technology, 51(21),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 11, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 12, 2018
Journal Environmental Science & Technology
Electronic ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 21
Public URL
Publisher URL


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