Chemical regeneration of thermally conditioned basalt fibres
M. Lilli, F. Sarasini, L. Di Fausto, C. González, A. Fernández, C.S. Lopes, and J. Tirillò
Applied Sciences (Switzerland), vol. 10, no. 19, art. no. 6674, 2020
The disposal of fibre reinforced composite materials is a problem widely debated in the literature. This work explores the ability to restore the mechanical properties of thermally conditioned basalt fibres through chemical treatments. Inorganic acid (HF) and alkaline (NaOH) treatments proved to be effective in regenerating the mechanical strength of recycled basalt fibres, with up to 94% recovery of the strength on treatment with NaOH. In particular, HF treatment proved to be less effective compared to NaOH, therefore pointing towards a more environmentally sustainable approach considering the disposal issues linked to the use of HF. Moreover, the strength regeneration was found to be dependent on the level of temperature experienced during the thermal treatment process, with decreasing effectiveness as a function of increasing temperature. SEM analysis of the fibres' lateral surfaces suggests that surface defects removal induced by the etching reaction is the mechanism controlling recovery of fibre mechanical properties. In addition, studies on the fracture toughness of the regenerated single fibres were carried out, using focussed ion beam (FIB) milling technique, to investigate whether any structural change in the bulk fibre occurred after thermal exposure and chemical regeneration. A significant increase in the fracture toughness for the regenerated fibres, in comparison with the as-received and heat-treated basalt ones, was measured.