Boeing has collaborated with UK-based firm ELG Carbon Fibre to recycle aerospace-grade composite materials, which will be used to produce a variety of products such as laptop cases and car components.

The partnership will use excess carbon fibre materials from 11 Boeing sites. This initiative is expected to help reduce solid waste by more than one million pounds annually.

Boeing has been working for years to develop an economically feasible carbon fibre reuse industry and enhanced its production methods to reduce surplus products.

The company has also developed a model for collecting scrap material.

Despite these efforts, Boeing faced technical constraints while repurposing material that had already been ‘cured’ for aircraft production.

“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.”

ELG has developed a method to recycle ‘cured’ composites so that these do not end up in landfills.

With the latest collaboration, ELG is expected to increase the number of its employees from 39 in 2016 to 112 by the end of next year.

Does civil aviation need nationalisation to survive?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Boeing Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development Materials and Fabrication director Tia Benson Tolle said: “Recycling cured carbon fibre was not possible just a few years ago.

“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.”

Boeing and ELG have already conducted a pilot project to recycle excess material from Boeing’s Composite Wing Center in Everett, Washington, US, which develops wings for the 777X airplane programme.

In order to treat the excess materials, ELG put them in a furnace, which then vapourises the resin that holds the carbon fibre layers together.

During the 18-month pilot, the companies saved 380,000lb of carbon fibre, which was cleaned and sold to electronics and ground transportation companies.

Boeing and ELG are also planning to expand the newly signed agreement to procure excess material from three additional Boeing facilities in Canada, China, and Malaysia.