Textination Newsline

Reset
2 results
Photo: Pixabay
16.02.2021

Carbon with Multiple Lives: Bringing Innovations in Carbon Fiber Recycling to Market

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), for instance, is currently working with industrial partners on combining the static-mechanical strengths of carbon fibers with vibration damping properties to improve the housings of electric motors in cars. The project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is aimed at developing hybrid nonwovens that contain other fibers, in addition to carbon fiber, as a reinforcement. "We want to combine the advantages of different fiber materials and thereby develop a product that is optimally tailored to the requirements", explains Marcel Hofmann, head of department of Textile Lightweight Construction at STFI.

The Chemnitz researchers would therefore complement previous nonwoven solutions. They look back on 15 years of working with recycled carbon fibers. The global annual demand for the high-value fibers has almost quadrupled in the past decade, according to the AVK Industry Association to around 142,000 t most recently. "Increasing demand has brought recycling more and more into focus", says Hofmann. According to him, carbon fiber waste is available for about one-tenth to one-fifth of the price of primary fibers, but they still need to be processed. The key issue for the research success of recycled fibers is competitive applications. STFI has found these not only in cars, but also in the sports and leisure sector as well as in medical technology, for example in components for computer tomography. "While metals or glass fibers cast shadows as potential competing products, carbon does not interfere with the image display and can fully exploit its advantages", explains Hofmann.
 
Using Paper Know-How
If recycled carbon fibers can pass through the product cycle again, this significantly improves their carbon footprint. At the same time it applies: The shorter the carbon fibers, the less attractive they are for further recycling. With this in mind, the Cetex Research Institute and the Papiertechnische Stiftung (PTS), both members of the Zuse Community, developed a new process as part of a research project that gives recycled carbon fibers, which previously seemed unsuitable, a second product life. "While classic textile processes use dry processing for the already very brittle recycled carbon fibers in fiber lengths of at least 80 mm, we dealt with a process from the paper industry that processes the materials wet. At the end of the process, in very simplified terms, we obtained a laminar mat made of recycled carbon fibers and chemical fibers", says Cetex project engineer Johannes Tietze, explaining the process by which even 40 mm short carbon fibers can be recycled into appealing intermediates.

The resulting product created in a hot pressing process serves as the base material for heavy-duty structural components. In addition, the mechanical properties of the semi-finished products were improved by combining them with continuous fiber-reinforced tapes. The researchers expect the recycled product to compete with glass-fiber-reinforced plastics, for example in applications in rail and vehicle construction. The results are now being incorporated into further research and development in
the cooperation network of Ressourcetex, a funded association with 18 partners from industry and science.

Successful Implementation in the Automotive Industry
Industrial solutions for the recycling of carbon fiber production waste are being developed at the Thuringian Institute of Textile and Plastics Research (TITK). Several of these developments were industrially implemented with partners at the company SGL Composites in Wackersdorf, Germany. The processing of the so-called dry waste, mainly from production, is carried out in a separate procedure. "Here, we add the opened fibers to various processes for nonwoven production", says the responsible head of the department at TITK, Dr. Renate Lützkendorf . In addition to developments for applications e.g. in the BMW i3 in the roof or rear seat shell, special nonwovens and processes for the production of Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) were established at TITK. These are thermoset materials consisting of reaction resins and reinforcing fibers, which are used to press fiber-plastic composites. This was used, for example, in a component for the C-pillar of the BMW 7 Series. "In its projects, TITK is primarily focusing on the development of more efficient processes and combined procedures to give carbon fiber recycling materials better opportunities in lightweight construction applications, also in terms of costs", says Lützkendorf. The focus is currently on the use of CF recycled fibers in thermoplastic processes for sheet and profile extrusion. "The goal is to combine short- and continuous-fiber reinforcement in a single, high-performance process step."

1) Since February 1st, 2021, Dr.-Ing. Thomas Reussmann succeeds Dr.-Ing. Renate Lützkendorf, who retired 31 January.

Source:

Zuse Community

Photo: Pixabay
26.02.2019

TURKEY REMAINS AN IMPORTANT MARKET FOR GERMAN TEXTILE MACHINERY

  • Competition from the Far East increases modernization pressure

Turkey is an important market for German manufacturers of textile machinery. However, the textile and clothing industry has a problem: exports have been stagnating for years.

  • Competition from the Far East increases modernization pressure

Turkey is an important market for German manufacturers of textile machinery. However, the textile and clothing industry has a problem: exports have been stagnating for years.

The Turkish textile industry is broadly based: Companies manufacture all intermediate products in the country, including yarns, fibers and fabrics. Production along the entire textile value chain means great sales potential for German suppliers of textile machinery. In fact, Turkey is the second most important export market for German spinning, weaving, textile finishing machines and the like after China, as it can be seen from the figures of the Federal Statistical Office Destatis.Nevertheless, the sector is not a growth market. Apart from a few outliers upwards and downwards, Turkish textile machinery imports have remained at the same level for several years. This is due to the fact that Turkish exports of textiles and clothing are also stagnating. Particularly noticeable: companies benefited only marginally from the weak lira last year.

Textile and apparel industry benefits little from weak lira
Year Turkish exports of clothing and textiles (in US$ billion) Annual change (in %)
2015 26.3 -10.3
2016 26.1 -0.6
2017 26.7 2.1
2018 27.7 3.6

Source: Turkish Statistical Office TÜIK (http://www.tuik.gov.tr)

Increasing pressure from the Far East
Turkish clothing manufacturers are increasingly feeling the effects of competition from the Far East. Despite the high number of informal workers, wages in Turkey have risen to such an extent that they cannot keep up with the low wages of Asian sewing factories. The geographical advantage of Turkish companies over Chinese competitors is at stake because of the new Silk Road and the development of faster transport routes. Free trade agreements that the European Union is currently negotiating with India and South Korea will further increase the pressure on Turkish producers.

Slump in 3rd quarter 2018
In addition, there is the difficult economic situation in the country: the Turkish lira reached a record low, especially in the months of August to October 2018, and commercial banks raised their lending rates. As a result, financing costs for machinery from abroad suddenly increased, orders from Turkey failed to materialize, especially in the third quarter. The German knitting machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie has also noticed this, as Stefan Bühler, who is responsible for the Turkish business, reports: "In the last three months of 2018, the market was virtually dead. In the meantime, however, the industry is gradually recovering.

Akar Textile plans new factory
Announcements about new investments cannot yet be heard at this time. As early as June 2018, Akar Textile (http://www.akartextile.com) announced that it would build a new factory for 47 million Turkish lira (TL) in the municipality of Savur in southeastern Turkey. 3,000 employees are there to become employed. Akar Textile produces for companies such as C&A, Mango and H&M. Only a few months after the announcement of the project, the economic crisis in Turkey deepened in September. The extent to which the turbulence has affected the project implementation is not known.

Technical textiles as a driving force for growth
Far Eastern competition is increasing the pressure to modernize the Turkish textile industry. In the future, industry will have to compete primarily with high-quality products. Growth impulses are currently coming from the sector of technical textiles. According to industry reports, more than 200 small and medium-sized enterprises are already producing technical textiles and nonwovens in Turkey. These textiles and fabrics are being used in the automotive, packaging and cosmetics industries.

In June 2018, the Turkish METYX Group (http://www.metyx.com) invested in its machinery parc. The company is manufacturing technical textiles and has ordered a line of warp knitting machines from the German textile machine manufacturer Karl Mayer. The manufacturer of composite materials is thus increasing its capacity by 12,000 tons of glass and carbon fibers. In recent years, more and more research and development centers have emerged to promote the necessary technology transfer in the industry. The Institute for Technical Textiles at RWTH Aachen University (ITA) founded a research center in Istanbul in October 2016. In the Teknosab industrial zone in Bursa the BUTEKOM research and development center for textile technology was established in 2008. The institute offers training as well as research and development cooperation to and with companies.

However, many medium-sized textile companies often lack the money to invest in modern machinery. The short planning horizon makes an access to research and development more difficult. As a member of the management board of the German-Turkish Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Frank Kaiser has been observing the Turkish business landscape for eight years. He points out that the textile manufacturers, like other medium-sized companies in the country too, often plan in short terms. "In view of the volatile business environment, this is rational," Kaiser explains.

Turkish imports of textile machinery and exchange rate comparison  1)
Year Import from Germany
(in USD million)
Total imports
(in USD million)
Exchange rate
(1 US$ = ?TL)
2009 143 505 1.55
2011 521 1,851 1.67
2013 619 2,211 1.90
2015 382 1,398 2.72
2017 447 1,478 3.65
2018 1) 2) 490 1,774 4.81

1) the slump in the 3rd quarter is not yet visible in the annual figures for 2018; it will not become noticeable until 2019
Sources: UN-Comtrade, TurkStat 2), Bundesbank