Boeing Enters Composite Recycling Partnership

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Image: ELG Carbon Fibre

Image: ELG Carbon Fibre

Boeing and ELG Carbon Fibre have announced a partnership to recycle excess aerospace-grade composite materials from 11 Boeing airplane manufacturing sites. According to Boeing, the recycled carbon fiber will be sold to companies in the electronics and ground transportation industries for products such as electronic accessories and automotive equipment. The company says the agreement, which it is calling the first of its kind in the aerospace industry, will reduce Boeing's solid waste by more than one million pounds a year.

"Recycling cured carbon fiber was not possible just a few years ago," said Tia Benson Tolle, Boeing’s materials & fabrication director for product strategy & future airplane development. "We are excited to collaborate with ELG and leverage innovative recycling methods to work toward a vision where no composite scrap will be sent to landfills."

To test the viability of large-scale composite material recycling, Boeing and ELG conducted a pilot project at Boeing's Composite Wing Center in Everett, Washington. Using ELG’s method of “[putting] excess materials through treatment in a furnace, which vaporizes the resin that holds the carbon fiber layers together and leaves behind clean material,” 1.5 million pounds of carbon fiber were saved and sold over an 18-month period.

ELG is estimating that it will triple the number of people it employs as a result of the partnership. The companies are considering expanding the agreement to include excess material from three additional Boeing sites in Canada, China and Malaysia.

Comments (1)

I hope that evaporative oven has some serious pollution controls on it to capture all the volatile resin organics it will produce. Add in the energy use(aka: burn a different carbon source to recycle the first carbon source)and associated pollution I do question the net environmental impact. Sure, the landfill won't be filled with inert carbon scraps but the air will be polluted instead. Does anyone do a cradle to grave analysis on this kind of thing or are we destined to just promote the best parts and ignore the rest?

Posted by: Steven Morton | December 6, 2018 3:03 PM    Report this comment

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