CIRCE is on “Compositi Magazine”10 June 2021
CIRCE is on “The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology”26 April 2022
Environmental impact assessment of zero waste approach for carbon fiber prepreg scraps
Bianchi I, Forcellese A, Marconi M, Simoncini M, Vita A, Castorani V
In the present paper, the environmental impact of an innovative technology, based on a zero-waste approach, for reclaiming carbon fiber prepreg scraps is assessed. The innovative process, proposed within the European project CIRCE, aims at reclaiming scraps produced during the cutting operation of virgin prepreg, avoiding the waste materials landfilling or incineration. The prepreg scraps were transformed into a ready-to-use raw secondary material by using two specifically developed automated systems for cutting and peeling of the scraps. By exploiting the prepared scraps in a compression molding process, recycled composite parts were produced. The evaluation of the environmental impact was carried out by means of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach, using the different impact assessment methodologies based on the Cumulative Energy Demand, Global Warming Potential and ReCiPe methods. Furthermore, tensile tests were performed at room temperature to investigate the mechanical properties of the recovered scraps products. In order to evaluate the environmental benefits of the innovative compression molding production with recovered prepreg scraps, the LCA analysis was also performed on two different traditional virgin production scenarios, i.e. the compression molding production with virgin prepreg and the autoclave processing with virgin prepregs, both used for the production of CFRP parts. The results show that the reclaim process leads to a strong reduction of the environmental impacts with respect to traditional composite production processes, demonstrating that such process can represent a valid alternative for a more sustainable manufacturing of composite products.