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Prerequisites and mechanisms of release of respirable fibrous carbon fiber fragments (CarboBreak)

Project number: F 2476 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Completed Project


The lightweight construction offensive and e-mobility forced extensive developments in the field of innovative fibre materials and fibre composites. In particular, carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) are experiencing increasing demand in a wide range of applications and products, e.g. in wind turbines, aircraft and automobiles.

Carbon fibres are exposed to high mechanical stresses in the process chain from the fibre to the textile surface and the composite materials to recycling and reuse. The fragmentation of fibres can also release respirable (alveolar) fragments which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), must be assumed to have an asbestos-like effect.

The aim of the project was therefore to create an improved understanding of the fragment fracture behaviour of different carbon fibre types. At the same time, the release behaviour of alveolar fragments from fibres and fibre composites under mechanical stress was investigated.

It was found that a release of alveolar fibre fragments must be assumed when handling all carbon fibre types investigated in the project. However, at a density of carbon fibre above 1.95 g/cm³, an increased release of harmful fibre fragments could be observed. This mainly applies to pitch-based carbon fibres.

These results were confirmed by workplace measurements during work with carbon fibres and carbon fibre-reinforced plastics depending on the machining processes and protective measures used.

With the BMBF-funded research project, the first ways for an occupational hygiene assessment of different carbon fibre types were shown and indications for a safe and sustainable design for material developments are given.


Unit 4.5 "Particulate Hazardous Substances, Advanced Materials"

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