Currently, the most common method of synthesizing of carbon fiber (CF) is by utilizing polyacrylonitrile (PAN). Although this is a very effective way of obtaining CF, this method requires a lot of energy and is expensive. There is currently a need for methods of synthesizing CF that provide safer, cheaper, and more energy efficient alternatives to using polyacrylonitrile (PAN).
Polyethylene (PE) is the most extensively used category of plastic; primary production exceeded 110 million tons in 2015. A popular area of research is chemical recycling of PE via pyrolysis, hydrogenolysis, or other processes that “crack” the polymer into liquid fuels or other valuable, low molecular weight products. However, high efficiency conversions are energy intensive or expensive whereas low-efficiency conversions produce a chemically heterogeneous waste PE oil. Valorizing this waste PE oil would make chemical recycling of PE more economically viable.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed Sulfo-PE Carbon Fiber, which is a technique that enables the production of valuable carbon fiber materials from waste polyolefin plastics in a process that is safer and more efficient than previous methods. It reduces material cost because it doesn't rely on virgin plastic or more expensive polyacrylonitrile. The invention also promotes chemical recycling and upcycling of plastics, reducing plastic pollution of the environment.
- Automotive and aerospace industry manufacturing
- Medical machinery manufacturing
- Industrial equipment manufacturing
- Renewable energy
- Sporting goods and recreation
Benefits and Advantages
- Enables chemical recycling and upcycling of plastics
- Cost-effective manufacturing
- Improved energy efficiency
- More sustainable manufacturing
- Reduced environmental impact