Production, Use, and Waste Management of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics (CFRP) - A System Analytic Study

Project description

Due to their specific properties fibre reinforced composite materials gain in importance as a construction material with low specific weight and other tailor-made properties. Carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) show clear advantages regarding weight, stiffness, resistance against corrosion and absorption of energy especially when compared to metallic materials. Today's main application fields of CFRP are connected with the aviation industry, the energy industry (wind energy plants, off shore oil production, etc.) and other industrial branches for example the production of different consumer goods as leisure and sporting articles.

Up to now the high costs of the basic material as well as a low automation level which results in high costs for manufacturing prevent a widespread use of these materials e.g. in the automotive industry. Another obstacle - especially concerning this industrial branch - are the still unsolved or unsatisfying solved problems with the management of production wastes or used goods.

Taking these aspects into consideration the question arises whether an increasing use of CFRP for the production of goods will take place in the future and what the impact of this use will look like. In detail this means to elaborate the advantages and disadvantages (with respect to material properties, ecological and economical impacts) caused by an increased use of CFRP.

A first step in the context of this system analytic study is to give an overview of the amount and different applications of CFRP for Germany, for Europe and, as far as possible, for other parts of the world. In addition the reasons will be analysed which result in the decision to use or not to use CFRP for a specific product.

Advantages as well as disadvantages of CFRP compared with the use of conventional materials will be analysed in detail. Regarding different production techniques as well as technical and material-specific aspects the study is strongly correlated with the project "System Analytic Study of the application of the microwave technology for the curing of CFRP", a technology, developed at the "Institute for Pulsed Power and Microwave Technology" (IHM) of the Research Centre Karlsruhe.

The following work packages will be carried out:

  • Material Flow Analysis (MFA) and balancing of energy used for the production of basic materials as well as of products composed of CFRP. For these analyses methods and results from the HGF-Strategy-fond-project "Schwarzer Rumpf" will be comprised.
  • Analyses of the availability of resources (basic materials, production capacities etc.)
  • Analyses concerning the use of CFRP containing products (e.g. reduced energy consumption in the transport sector due to lower weight, extended life time of products made of CFRP, reduced maintenance efforts for products made of CFRP etc.)
  • Estimation of the production costs of selected goods containing CFRP.
  • Analysis of possible waste management measures for production wastes and for used goods containing CFRP.

One important aspect of the (increased) use of CFRP is the question whether this contributes to a sustainable development. On the basis of selected scenarios the use of CFRP will be analysed and discussed in terms of ecological as well as economical advantages or disadvantages. This includes a reflection of the boundary conditions which may foster or inhibit an increased use of CFRP.


Dipl.-Phys. Klaus-Rainer Bräutigam
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe