Recycle and Reuse of Continuous Carbon Fibers from Thermoset Composites Using Joule Heating. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study demonstrates a new and sustainable methodology for recycling continuous carbon fibers from end-of-life thermoset composite parts using Joule heating. This process addresses the longstanding challenge of efficiently recovering carbon fibers from composite scrap and reusing them to make fresh composites. The conductive carbon fibers volumetrically heat up when an electric current is passed through them, which in turn rapidly heats up the surrounding matrix sufficiently to degrade it. Fibers can be easily separated from the degraded matrix after the direct current (DC) heating process. Fibers reclaimed using this method were characterized to determine their tensile properties and surface chemistry, and compared against both as-received fibers and fibers recycled using conventional oven pyrolysis. The DC- and oven-recycled fibers yielded similar elastic modulus when compared against as-received fibers; however, an around 10-15% drop was observed in the tensile strength of fibers recycled using either method. Surface characterization showed that DC-recycled fibers and as-received fibers had similar types of functional groups. To demonstrate the reusability of recycled fibers, composites were fabricated by impregnation with epoxy resin and curing. The mechanical properties of these recycled carbon fiber composites (rCFRCs) were compared against conventional recycling methods, and similar modulus and tensile strength values were obtained. This study establishes DC heating as a scalable out-of-oven approach for recycling carbon fibers.

published proceedings

  • ChemSusChem

altmetric score

  • 6.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Sarmah, A., Sarikaya, S., Thiem, J., Upama, S. T., Khalfaoui, A. N., Dasari, S. S., ... Green, M. J.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Sarmah, Anubhav||Sarikaya, Sevketcan||Thiem, Jonathan||Upama, Shegufta T||Khalfaoui, Aida N||Dasari, Smita Shivraj||Arole, Kailash||Hawkins, Spencer A||Naraghi, Mohammad||Vashisth, Aniruddh||Green, Micah J

publication date

  • November 2022