Michelman Fiber Sizing Used in Manufacturing of World’s First Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV) Made with Recycled Carbon Fiber

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For the first time anywhere in the world, continuous recycled carbon fiber tow was used to manufacture a composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV). Steelhead Composites, Vartega and Michelman, all collaborated on the project.

COPV Manufactured from Recycled Carbon Fiber
The successful fabrication of this COPV clearly illustrates that reclaimed carbon fiber can be efficiently and effectively recycled to produce high quality, OEM products and components.

For the first time anywhere in the world, continuous recycled carbon fiber tow was used to manufacture a composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV). Steelhead Composites, Vartega and Michelman, all members of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), collaborated on the project. The achievement marks the first time that waste continuous tow carbon fiber towpreg has been reclaimed, recycled, and put back into the original manufacturing process.

The fiber was recycled using Vartega Inc.’s patent pending recycling process, sized with Michelman’s Hydrosize EP876 fiber sizing, and fabricated by Steelhead Composites. Until this milestone, recycled carbon fiber had been relegated to secondary products or as chopped fiber or filler. According to Mr. Steve Bassetti, Michelman’s Group Marketing Manager for the Industrial Manufacturing Group, “Steelhead and Vartega are amazing companies to work with and this collaborative accomplishment is a true turning point for the industry. The successful fabrication of this COPV clearly illustrates that reclaimed carbon fiber can be efficiently and effectively recycled to produce high quality, OEM products and components.”    

Michelman manufactures a versatile line of fiber sizings and resin modifiers that are used by fiber producers and composite manufacturers to produce stronger, lighter and more durable composite parts. The company’s broad portfolio of products allows customers to tailor the surface chemistry of reinforcement fibers to the chemistry of the matrix resin, thereby optimizing the interface adhesion between the polymers and fibers.

Michelman’s fiber sizing solutions formulated for use with reclaimed and recycled carbon fiber include Hydrosize U2-04, Hydrosize HP3-02, Hydrosize PA845H and Hydrosize HP-1632. These formulations are compatible with previously sized recycled carbon fiber, typically epoxy, as well as with most common thermoplastic resins such as PA, PP, PC, and high temperature thermoplastics such as PPS and PEEK.

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Christy Randolph
Michelman
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