IACMI partners, Vartega, Steelhead Composites, and Michelman, have worked together to make the first composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) made from continuous recycled carbon fiber tow. Steelhead Composites fabricated the type 3 COPV from Vartega’s recycled carbon fiber tow that Michelman sized for the project. The project gained momentum when the three companies discussed potential project collaborations after meeting during the January 2016 IACMI Members Meeting.

A type 3 COPV has a metal liner to serve double duty as a mandrel, a permeation layer, and a composite overwrap. This world-first COPV consists of an outer composite layer made from Vartega’s recycled carbon fiber and a Steelhead-designed aluminum liner. Type 3 COPVs made from carbon fiber are one-quarter to one-third the weight of traditional steel accumulators.

For this project Vartega used its proprietary recycling process to produce recycled carbon fiber that has the same format and mechanical properties as virgin carbon fiber. Michelman provided and applied sizing chemistry tailored for use in this application. By using recycled carbon fiber, Steelhead was able to reduce scrap waste and demonstrate the role sustainability can play in the manufacturing process to create vessels that are a lighter weight and potentially more cost-effective than traditional steel accumulators. The Microforce Accumulator created in this project has broad reaching applications for high pressure fluid storage in transportation, oil and gas, and energy storage applications.

Vartega President, Andrew Maxey, met Michelman Group Marketing Manager, Steve Bassetti, at the January 2016 IACMI Members Meeting in Detroit, MI, where the companies recognized opportunities for collaboration on future projects. While IACMI partners, Steelhead Composites and Vartega, had been collaborating prior to discussions with Michelman, the IACMI Members Meetings offered the unique platform for collaborators to meet face-to-face to explore ways that Michelman could participate in this project as a key partner.

“IACMI Members Meetings are great places to gather with your peers and identify ways to collaborate to address immediate and future industry challenges. Through our membership in IACMI, we’ve been able to develop new relationships and to strengthen existing ones. This COPV project with Steelhead and Michelman is a great example of what can happen in a very short amount of time when partners work together to solve challenging problems,” explained Maxey.

For an opportunity for your company to network with other innovators, register for the July 26 – 27, 2017 IACMI Members Meeting in Dayton, Ohio, by visiting https://iacmi.org/ohiomembersmeeting.

Read more about the COPV on Composites Manufacturing Magazine, JEC, Technical Textile and Benzinga.