Steelhead Create Pressure Vessel Using Only Recycled Carbon Fiber

19th July 2017

Steelhead Composites has fabricated a type 3 composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) using only recycled continuous carbon fiber tow supplied by Vartega Inc. The fiber was recycled with Vartega Inc’s proprietary process, and was sized by Michelman. This collaboration marks the first time that waste continuous tow carbon fiber towpreg has been reclaimed, recycled, and put back into the original manufacturing process.

Recycled carbon fiber has been relegated to secondary products as chopped fiber or filler to date, but this important milestone sets a new precedent for the future of continuous carbon fiber tows.

“This project was an excellent demonstration of both the utility of recycled carbon fiber in end-use products and the value of industry cooperation when bridging technical hurdles. Michelman and Steelhead’s expertise were invaluable, and we are excited about expanding these relationships as scale-up and optimization continue.” said Sean Kline, Vartega Inc Vice President of Engineering.

“The project team took this vessel from concept to reality in just a few short months. I am extremely proud of everyone involved for their hard work and diligence to bring this all together. We will now take this success and go bigger. We’re planning a scale-up of our recycling process that should allow us to wind a much larger vessel in the not-too-distant future.” said Andrew Maxey, Vartega Inc President.

“The recycled fiber From Vartega processed very well with the sizing from Michelman. It was handled just like any other dry fiber would be in a traditional wet winding set up, and there were no issues with fraying or splitting. This recycled fiber could have been virgin tow from the manufacturer.”  said Jake Schrader, Steelhead Product Development Specialist.