“The results showed that by using our microwave curing process with unidirectional carbon fiber reinforced polymers it is possible to reduce the curing time (excluding cooling time) by up to 89% and the energy consumption by up to 90% compared to traditional oven curing.”
Our paper, “Energy Efficient Solid-State Microwave Curing of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Composites”, has been published in the Proceeding of the XIX International Congress on Evolution and New Trends in Electrothermal Processes – UIE 2021, of the conference that took place in Pilsen (Czech Republic) in September 2021.
In this paper, we describe our successful tests of curing carbon fiber composites using microwave heating, as a highly energy efficient alternative to the traditional oven curing. Using microwaves for curing carbon fiber composites has the advantage of heating only the composite materials and not the whole oven, directly coupling energy into the composite material by a novel RF and Microwave Rapid Magnetic Induction Heating process. We also homogenise the heating process using real time IR camera feedback connected to a machine learning based controller that allows selecting the optimal settings during the whole process. Our solution can reduce the curing time and energy consumption by as much as 90%, thus saving energy, time and money at the application stage.
Fig. 1 Estimated energy consumption during microwave and oven curing of a carbon fiber composite plate of 35 cm by 15 cm and 2mm tick.