Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) consist of reinforcing fibers and a plastic matrix and - thanks to their high strength and stiffness combined with comparatively low density - they are in demand wherever lightweight construction is particularly important. This is the case, for example, in the aviation and automotive industries as well as the sports and leisure sectors.
The FRP plastic matrix usually consists of epoxy resin, a curing synthetic resin that can withstand high loads. The resin does not melt and it cannot therefore be recycled efficiently. Chemical recycling, in which a reagent breaks the substance’s chemical bond, is nevertheless a possible solution. A research team led by Prof. Gerd Wehnert from the Technical University of Nuremberg is therefore trying to develop an appropriate recycling reagent in the Ceres project (chemical recycling of epoxy resin-based substances). The solution appears to be a combination of several chemicals that attack and decompose the matrix of the epoxy-based component, allowing the fibers to be washed out. The fibers are then to be used for the production of new FRP.