WSU turns recycled carbon fiber into green building materials

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In Washington, Washington State University researchers are working with a Port Angeles nonprofit organization to develop new housing materials from heat‑treated wood and recycled carbon fiber used in Boeing airplanes.

Researchers from WSU’s Composite Materials and Engineering Center (CMEC) are assisting the Composites Recycling Technology Center (CRTC) in Port Angeles to produce construction‑grade cross‑laminated timber (CLT).

Cross‑laminated timber is a relatively new building material in the U.S. that has significant advantages in sustainability over many traditional housing materials, said Don Bender, CMEC director and Weyerhaeuser Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is the lead investigator for WSU.

Thermal modification of wood slightly reduces its strength, so the researchers will be adding recycled carbon fiber to CLT to restore the strength. Recycled carbon fiber costs about one‑tenth as much as virgin fiber.

The first real‑world application for the carbon fiber‑reinforced wood composite created for the project will likely be military housing