End-of-Life Recycling Options of (Nano)Enhanced CFRP Composite Prototypes Waste-A Life Cycle Perspective

Polymers (Basel). 2020 Sep 18;12(9):2129. doi: 10.3390/polym12092129.


Life cycle assessment is a methodology to assess environmental impacts associated with a product or system/process by accounting resource requirements and emissions over its life cycle. The life cycle consists of four stages: material production, manufacturing, use, and end-of-life. This study highlights the need to conduct life cycle assessment (LCA) early in the new product development process, as a means to assess and evaluate the environmental impacts of (nano)enhanced carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) prototypes over their entire life cycle. These prototypes, namely SleekFast sailing boat and handbrake lever, were manufactured by functionalized carbon fibre fabric and modified epoxy resin with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). The environmental impacts of both have been assessed via LCA with a functional unit of '1 product piece'. Climate change has been selected as the key impact indicator for hotspot identification (kg CO2 eq). Significant focus has been given to the end-of-life phase by assessing different recycling scenarios. In addition, the respective life cycle inventories (LCIs) are provided, enabling the identification of resource hot spots and quantifying the environmental benefits of end-of-life options.

Keywords: carbon fibre reinforced polymer composite (CFRP); carbon fibres (CFs); carbon nano tubes (CNTs); end-of-life (EoL); recycling; sustainability.