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Title: A diffusion-reaction computational study to reveal the depolymerization mechanisms of epoxy composites for recycling
It has been recently discovered that the thermosetting matrix of engineering composites can be fully depolymerized in organic solvents through covalent bond exchange reactions (BERs) between the polymer network and solvent molecules. This breakthrough enables the eco-friendly and sustainable recovery of valuable fiber reinforcements using mild processing conditions. However, current investigations have been limited to proof-of-concept experimental demonstrations, leaving unanswered questions regarding the influence of temperature, solvent choice, and fiber arrangement on composite depolymerization performance. These factors are crucial for the commercialization and widespread industrial implementation of this technique. To address this significant knowledge gap, this study aims to establish the relationship between composite depolymerization speed and various material and processing conditions. A multiscale diffusion-reaction computational model is defined based on the finite element method, which links the microscale BER rate to the continuum-level composite depolymerization kinetics. Specifically, it reveals how the processing temperature, solvent diffusivity, fiber content, and fiber arrangement affect the overall composite depolymerization speed. The study enhances our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of composite recycling using organic solvents. As a result, it provides valuable insights for industrial stakeholders, allowing them to optimize depolymerization conditions, make informed material selections, and develop suitable business models for waste management.  more » « less
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Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Materials Today Sustainability
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Subject(s) / Keyword(s):
["Bond exchange reactions","Transesterification","Epoxy depolymerization","Composite recycling","Finite element simulation"]
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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