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Bicycle pedals for sustainability

Composite components made from carbon fiber and epoxy resin have excellent material properties. Unfortunately, up to a third of the waste is generated during the production of the components. A research consortium, including the SKZ Plastics Center, is working to change this with the "PreCycle" project. The solution: bicycle pedals.

February 5, 2024

The PreCycle research project is producing high-quality bicycle pedals from unused material scraps. (Photo: all ahead composites GmbH)

Industrial consortium develops recycling solutions for fiber composite offcuts with SKZ

Innovative lightweight solutions in the aerospace, automotive and sports industries are characterized by good mechanical properties combined with low weight.  Fiber-reinforced plastics, especially prepregs - carbon fabrics impregnated with epoxy resin - are often used for this purpose. However, there is a drawback to their production: up to 35 percent of uncured material can be wasted when cutting the sheet-shaped semi-finished products. This waste usually has to be disposed of as industrial waste. Current recycling approaches, such as pyrolysis to separate resin and fibers, are energy-intensive and expensive, and therefore not very practical for a comprehensive recycling concept for the resulting prepreg offcuts.

Material cycle for the production of new components
A consortium of industrial companies is now tackling this challenge in the "PreCycle" research project. In the project, the consortium - including all ahead composites GmbH, HP-T Höglmeier Polymer-Tech GmbH & Co. KG, RF Plast GmbH and SKZ - is pursuing a holistic approach to recycling non-recyclable material offcuts. The aim is to produce free-flowing thermoset molding compounds from uncured prepreg waste, which are then further processed into high-quality bicycle pedals using injection molding. In this way, the uncured prepreg offcuts can be reintegrated into a material cycle as a valuable raw material for the production of new components.

SKZ takes over formulation development and compounding
The three-year cooperation project is funded by the Free State of Bavaria under the Bavarian Collaborative Research Program (BayVFP) - Materials and Materials. Within the project, HP-T is developing a large-scale size reduction process for prepreg offcuts, while SKZ is developing the formulation, compounding and optimization of the molding compounds. The demonstrator component "high-end bicycle pedals" is designed at all ahead, while RF Plast manufactures the injection mold and designs the injection molding process.

"Recycling of industrial waste
"The results of the project offer the opportunity to recycle the industrial waste generated during the processing of prepregs, thus contributing to increased sustainability. We are therefore delighted to be working with a strong industrial consortium to advance the recycling of prepreg offcuts," says Dr. Andreas Köppel, Group Manager Crosslinked Materials and Materials Development at SKZ.

Learn more about crosslinked materials

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Contact Person:

Dr. Andreas Köppel
Group Manager | material development

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