Collaboration Produces First COPV Made with Recycled Carbon Fiber

CINCINNATI–A collaboration involving Steelhead Composites, Vartega, and Michelman–all members of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI)–is responsible for the development of what is reported to be the first composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) manufactured from continuous recycled carbon fiber tow. The achievement is said to mark 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 as chopped fiber or filler.

"Steelhead and Vartega are amazing companies to work with, and this collaborative accomplishment is a true turning point for the industry," said Steve Bassetti, Michelman's group marketing manager for the Industrial Manufacturing Group, in a release from Michelman. "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 is said to allow 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 formulations for use with reclaimed and recycled carbon fiber include Hydrosize U2-04, Hydrosize HP3-02, Hydrosize PA845H and Hydrosize HP-1632. The formulations are compatible with previously sized recycled carbon fiber, typically epoxy, and with most common thermoplastic resins, such as PA, PP, PC, and high temperature thermoplastics, such as PPS and PEEK.

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