The production of carbon fibers requires a great deal of energy. Although carbon fibers can be recycled, this process has to date proven extremely complex and expensive. CFK Valley Stade Recycling GmbH & Co. KG , based in Wischhafen an der Elbe, has, however, now developed a process that produces products that are even more cost-effective than virgin materials. The company leverages pyrolysis here, i.e. the thermochemical decomposition of the raw material at a high temperature, to produce the recycling material CarboNXT .
Carbon fibers are used in industry for a number of purposes, including for new composite plastics, a lightweight material in high demand in automotive production, for example. According to Managing Director Tim Rademacher , there is currently more than enough source material available, since the production of carbon fibers generates approximately 30% in waste. Globally, this totals some 30,000 tons; in Europe, the figure is approximately 10,000 tons. CFK Valley Recycling currently processes around 3,500 tons a year, thereby generating around 1,000 tons of CarboNXT. The company could increase production, but at present there is a lack of demand. Rademacher says that many companies still have misgivings about the recycling material.