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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: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2022-06-30


The trend towards lightweight design and e-mobility has led to extensive developments in the area of innovative fibre materials and fibre composites. In the past decade, global demand for carbon fibres in particular has more than doubled, and an increased demand for carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) is evident in a wide range of applications and products, including wind turbines, aircraft and motor vehicles.

In the process chain from the fibre to the textile surface and the composite materials, through to recycling and reuse, carbon fibres are subjected to a high degree of mechanical stress. The fragmentation of fibres caused by such stress can also release respirable (alveolar) fragments which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are to be assumed to have an asbestos-like impact. Which of the different types of carbon fibres are prone to this sort of spall fracture, and the concentration in which these fragments can be released, is yet to be determined.

Therefore, the goal of the CarboBreak project is to gain more detailed knowledge of the fracturing behaviour of the various carbon fibres and to examine the release behaviour of respirable fragments under conditions of mechanical stress. The project is being supported with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with funding code 03XP0197B.

In this context, the work of BAuA focuses on the development of recommendations for the handling of carbon fibres in terms of occupational safety and health. On the basis of various material characteristics such as tensile strength or elongation at break, it should become possible to forecast a possible fracturing behaviour of the carbon fibres. The results of the CarboBreak project will make a key contribution to the development of application-safe materials according to the "Safety by Design" principle.


Unit 4.5 "Particulate Hazardous Substances, Advanced Materials"

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