Rice University Researchers Find Efficient Way to Recycle Glass Fiber-Reinforced Plastics into Silicon Carbide

On February 29, 2024, Rice University reported:

‘Glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP), a strong and durable composite material, is widely used in everything from aircraft parts to windmill blades. Yet the very qualities that make it robust enough to be used in so many different applications make it difficult to dispose of ⎯ consequently, most GFRP waste is buried in a landfill once it reaches its end of life. According to a study published in Nature Sustainability, Rice University researchers and collaborators have developed a new, energy-efficient upcycling method to transform glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP) into silicon carbide, widely used in semiconductors, sandpaper and other products…This new process grinds up GFRP into a mixture of plastic and carbon and involves adding more carbon, when necessary, to make the mixture conductive. The researchers then apply high voltage to it using two electrodes, bringing its temperature up to 1,600-2,900 degrees Celsius (2,912-5,252 Fahrenheit). “That high temperature facilitates the transformation of the plastic and carbon to silicon carbide,” Tour explained. “We can make two different kinds of silicon carbide, which can be used for different applications. In fact, one of these types of silicon carbide shows superior capacity and rate performance as battery anode material.”‘

Read the full article on the Rice University news site.

Read the study in Nature Sustainability at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-024-01287-w.