The Carbon Fibre Circular Demonstration Project was launched on Earth Day, April 22nd, with a focus on the reuse of carbon fiber components from the sports equipment industry, The project is run by the World Sailing Trust working with an alliance of international sports federations, supported by the International Olympic Committee, sports equipment manufacturers, Lineat Composites, the University of Bristol, and the National Composites Centre in the UK.
Fibers from broken or end-of-life carbon fiber components from sports equipment are reclaimed through a HiPerDif (high performance discontinuous fiber) process, developed at the University of Bristol, that realigns the fibers into unidirectional prepreg tapes. The tapes will be supplied back to manufacturers within the alliance, such as Wilson Sporting Goods, SCOTT Sports, and OneWay, who will reuse the material in new sporting equipment. Early results from the demonstration show that in some cases the new carbon fiber tape produces better results than the original virgin fiber.
The process is currently manual, with team members from Lineat Composites and researchers from the University of Bristol aligning the fibers by hand. In the next stage of the project, a machine will allow Lineat to commercialize the process and align up to eighty billion fibers daily.
Dee Caffari, chair of the World Sailing Trust, said, “Collaboration and alliance has been a key driver in this project. We know that sport generally has a very high use of carbon fibre, particularly within the high-end performance sport. However, the usage of carbon fibre in some other industries is even greater. This demonstration project has been a first step and we are now keen to join with other sports and other industries to develop the next stage of this process.”