Progress in Recycling of Composites with Polycyanurate Matrix
Thermoset based composites are used increasingly in industry for light weight applications, mainly for aircraft, windmills and for automobiles. Fiber reinforced thermoset polymers show a number of advantages over conventional materials, like metals, especially their better performance regarding their strength-to-weight ratio. However, composite recycling is a big issue, as there are almost no established recycling methods. The authors investigate the recyclability of polycyanurate homo- and copolymers with different recycling agents under different conditions. Also the influence of the recycling process on the most important reinforcement fibers, i.e. carbon-, glass-, aramid-, and natural-fiber is investigated. The authors find that: the recycling speed is not only dependent on the temperature, but also is significantly influenced by the particular recycling agents and the polycyanurate formulation. Hence, the stability against the recycling media can be adjusted over a broad range by adjusting the polymer composition. Furthermore, the authors find that the inorganic reinforcement fibers (carbon and glass) are almost unaffected by neither recycling agent at either temperature. Aramid-fibers degrade, depending on the particular recycling agent, from slightly up to extremely strong. This leaves one with the possibility to find a combination of matrix resin and recycling agent, which does not affect the aramid-fiber significantly. In the case of natural fibers, the dependence on the particular recycling media is very strong: some media do not affect the fiber significantly; others reduce the mechanical properties (tensile strength and elongation at break) significantly, and still others even improve both mechanical properties strongly. From the Recyclate, the authors synthesize and subsequently characterize a number of new polyurethane thermosets (foamed and solid samples) with different contents of recyclate, exhibiting Tg in the range of 60@C to 128@C.