Catalytic Conversion Recycling Process for Composite Aircraft Components

Period of Performance: 12/29/1997 - 12/28/1999

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Adherent Technologies, Inc.
5505 Foothills Canyon Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

Results from the Phase I program show that catalytic conversation is a cost-effective means of reclaiming valuable carbon fibers and hydrocarbons from scrap aircraft composites. The reclaimed carbon fibers are similar in surface texture, surface chemistry, and tensile strength to virgin fibers of the same type. The recovered hydrocarbons from the epoxy matrix show that the process follows standard organic chemistry rules for fracture of the weakest bonds and formation of the most stable intermediate compounds. Scale-up of the catalytic conversion recycling process for scrap aircraft composites will be the Phase II program focus. The overall objective of the Phase II program is to develop the technical and market data necessary to demonstrate the low-temperature, catalytic conversion process on a large scale for recycling scrap composite materials and to assess the economic feasibility of the process. Specific items to be addressed in the Phase II program include modification of the recycling reactor to solve material transport, heat transfer, agitation, and offgas handling problems encountered during the Phase I program. Solid separation processes that remove metals and fillers from the reclaimed carbon fibers and size reduction of honeycomb structures will be investigated. Uses for reclaimed carbon fibers and sizings will be addressed along with the scrap collection process, flue gas composition, and permitting and regulatory requirements.