Carbon fibre is a staple material in the composites industry, offering a unique set of properties that enable manufacturers to achieve performance enhancements such as lightweighting, high strength thermal expansion, stiffness, and fatigue resistance.

However, as the use of carbon fibre within composites has increased and with over 40% of carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites ending up in landfill each year, the industry has sought solutions for its end of life. TFP is actively addressing this issue by providing the composites industry a more sustainable option through recycled carbon veils.

We sat down with TFP’s Head of Sales, Tom Sharrock to find out more about TFP’s carbon recycled veil and its transformative impact on the industry.

Can you tell us a bit about you? How long have you worked in the composites industry?  

I have worked in composites for over 12 years, focused predominantly on aerospace across Europe, and Asia. In that time, I have noticed an increased interest in closed loop recycling and the consideration of carbon fibres full life cycle. At TFP, I am keen to help our customers reduce their carbon footprint by incorporating more sustainable and recycled materials in their composite structures.

Why is carbon fibre the go to material for the composites industry?

Since its commercialisation in the 1980s, carbon fibre has revolutionised the composites landscape. Compared to traditional materials like metal and wood, carbon fibre offers several characteristics that are crucial for today’s composites, including being lightweight and having a high tensile strength, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. Making it an attractive material for use in aerospace, automotive, sporting goods, wind energy and many other industries.

The challenge arises at the end of the product’s lifespan, where carbon fibre presents a recycling challenge that the composites industry has been trying to address over the past few years. TFP can now offer carbon nonwoven produced from recycled fibre reclaimed from composites that achieves performance levels comparable to that of virgin fibre.

What’s TFP’s role in recycled carbon fibre?

At TFP, our Technology team started to research ways in which we could recycle carbon fibre over 15 years ago, leveraging our expertise to develop high-quality veils with reclaimed carbon fibre sourced from the composite manufacturing supply chain, with the same performance and quality synonymous with TFP’s materials.

The result is a veil that is easily integrated into a composite layup, that can act as a surfacing or semi-structural layer, with properties that include facilitating a high-quality resin rich surface finish, as well as imparting electrical conductivity, and high temperature & chemical resistance. 

Where does TFP source the recycled carbon fibre?

Our recycled carbon veils are made from reclaimed fibre sourced from the composite manufacturing supply chain, which was previously considered as waste. We take by-product from the composite manufacturing process, which could be end of tow bobbins or woven fabric offcuts.

Effectively closing the carbon fibre lifecycle loop and offering a practical path for recycling fibres that we once considered waste. We’re essentially recycling carbon fibre from composites for composites.

What are the key advantages of using TFP’s recycled carbon nonwovens in advanced composites?

Our recycled carbon veils offer significant benefits for non-critical composite applications, such as interiors for aircraft or eVTOL, they have been specifically designed to improve the finish, fabrication, or functionality of a composite, while simultaneously enabling customers to demonstrate environmental responsibility without compromising on performance or quality.

By incorporating TFP’s recycled carbon veils can lead to up to a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions, significantly reducing the overall carbon footprint and sustainability of composite manufacturing.

What trends and innovations can we expect in the future of recycled materials within the composites industry?

The composites industry on the whole maintains as restless spirit of continuous new product development. At TFP, alongside our recycled carbon veils, we’ve recently launched a range of sustainable nonwovens. By using naturally derived and recycled fibres, we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible in sustainable nonwovens, ensuring a brighter and more eco-conscious future for the industry. 

Want to know more?