A promis­ing area of appli­ca­tion for the shock wave process is the recy­cling of com­pos­ite mate­ri­als and com­pos­ites such as pho­to­volta­ic mod­ules or car­bon fiber rein­forced plas­tics. In addi­tion to the sep­a­ra­tion of the mate­ri­als into their pure indi­vid­ual com­po­nents, ImpulsTec’s selec­tive frag­men­ta­tion tech­nol­o­gy offers even more effi­cient pos­si­bil­i­ties of recy­cling, name­ly the “func­tion­al recy­cling”. The lat­ter indi­cates a shift from a pure ele­ment / mate­r­i­al dri­ven recy­cling towards a removal of intact com­pos­ites and com­plete sub­struc­tures that are reused in the orig­i­nal appli­ca­tion or pro­duc­tion process.
The selec­tiv­i­ty achiev­able with the shock wave frag­men­ta­tion process depends on the mechan­i­cal and acoustic prop­er­ties of the com­pos­ite mate­ri­als. The fact that each mate­r­i­al can be non-destruc­tive­ly recov­ered allows new recy­cling approach­es to be imag­ined, away from a pure mate­r­i­al recy­cling towards a func­tion­al recycling.
One pos­si­ble appli­ca­tion of the shock wave process is the recy­cling of solar mod­ules, allow­ing both the semi­con­duc­tor mate­r­i­al and the high-qual­i­ty front glass to be recov­ered while meet­ing the high puri­ty require­ments asso­ci­at­ed with these materials.
The shock wave frag­men­ta­tion from Impul­sTec is ide­al­ly suit­ed for detach­ing thin coat­ings from sub­strates. Depend­ing on the mechan­i­cal integri­ty of their mate­ri­als, some sub­strates will remain large­ly struc­tural­ly intact, while oth­ers will also be frag­ment­ed. The min­i­mum thick­ness of the detach­able lay­er depends on the com­bi­na­tion of mate­ri­als and the phys­i­cal prop­er­ties of the objects to which they are bound. In sev­er­al research and cus­tomer projects it was pos­si­ble to detach lay­er thick­ness­es down to less than 10 µm using the shock wave method.

Our shock wave fragmentation process

separation of front glass
and back glass of a solar module 

detached front glass of a solar module

Application benefits:

dis­as­sem­bly of com­plex indus­tri­al mate­ri­als into indi­vid­ual components
more effi­cient recy­cling oppor­tu­ni­ties by recov­er­ing valu­able materials
access to pre­vi­ous­ly unused raw mate­r­i­al poten­tial (pro­duc­tion waste)
feed­ing back of mate­ri­als to the pro­duc­tion process­es (inline recycling)

Application examples:


before shock wave treatment

after shock wave treatment 
(glass fraction)

after shock wave treatment 
(semiconductor fraction)

after shock wave treatment 
(polymer fraction)


before shock wave treatment

during shock wave treatment

after shock wave treatment 
(plastic fraction)

after shock wave treatment 
(metal fraction)