Direct Upcycling of Woven Polypropylene Fabrics to Carbon‐Based Joule Heaters

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Polymer Science and Engineering


While various plastic waste management practices are demonstrated to result in materials with similar properties, morphological features of plastic waste are often lost after recycling/upcycling. Particularly, synthetic textiles are a severely underutilized waste stream that contains built-in value stemming from their woven architectures. This work demonstrates a simple upcycling strategy to convert polypropylene-based (PP) woven fabrics to carbon fiber mats through direct pyrolysis for direct use in various end applications without need of additional processing steps, distinct from prior works converting plastic waste to carbon-based additives. The retention of material properties and architectures, taking advantage of the inherent value with initial product manufacturing, is investigated, with optimal conditions resulting in consistent high carbon yields. Moreover, the textile-derived carbon shows exceptional Joule heating performance, which can be employed in various heating applications, resulting in reduced energy consumption compared to conventional heating. Furthermore, decoration of fabric-derived carbon with metal nanoparticles is demonstrated through electroplating, leading to altered surface functionality and further enhanced Joule heating performance. This work introduces a scalable method for upcycling of plastic waste to functional carbons that can completely retain initial material architectures with controlled shrinkage, providing a viable strategy for generating value-added products toward electrification of heating processes.

Publication Title

Advanced Sustainable Systems





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