Your Next Car May Be Built With Recycled Carbon Fiber From Boeing

Dec 7, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Saab may have been born from jets, but your next automobile may actually be constructed using aerospace-grade composite material from nearly a dozen Boeing airplane manufacturing sites. Boeing has teamed up with ELG Carbon Fibre to recycle excess carbon fiber used at Boeing facilities.

In addition to reducing solid waste by more than one million pounds a year, it’ll inject a dose of AvGeekery into everything from cars to laptop cases and beyond. Specifically, it’ll be used by other companies “to make products such as electronic accessories and automotive equipment.”

As the largest user of aerospace-grade composites from its commercial and defense programs, Boeing has been working for several years to create an economically viable carbon fiber reuse industry, but technical barriers stood in the way of repurposing material that had already been “cured” or prepped for use in the airplane manufacturing process. UK-based ELG developed a proprietary method to recycle “cured” composites so they don’t have to be thrown out.

Boeing's Everett plant (Photo courtesy of Boeing/Ken DeJarlais)
Boeing’s Everett plant. (Photo courtesy of Boeing/Ken DeJarlais)

“Recycling cured carbon fiber was not possible just a few years ago,” said Tia Benson Tolle, Boeing’s materials and fabrication director for product strategy and 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 prove that the recycling method can be applied on a grand scale, Boeing and ELG conducted a pilot project where they recycled excess material from Boeing’s Composite Wing Center in Everett, Wash., where the massive wings for the upcoming 777X airplane are made.

ELG put the excess materials through treatment in a furnace, which vaporizes the resin that holds the carbon fiber layers together and leaves behind clean material. Over the course of 18 months, the companies saved 380,000 pounds of carbon fiber, which was cleaned and sold to companies in the electronics and ground transportation industries.

Recycling carbon fiber (Photo courtesy of ELG Carbon Fibre)
Recycling carbon fiber. (Photo courtesy of ELG Carbon Fibre)

Boeing says the new agreement should save a majority of the excess composite material from its 11 sites, which will support the company’s goal to reduce solid waste going to landfills 20% by 2025. Boeing and ELG are considering expanding the agreement to include excess material from three additional Boeing sites in Canada, China and Malaysia.

There’s one other nifty anecdote as a result of this: Due to this partnership alone, ELG estimates the number of its employees will nearly triple from 39 in 2016 to an expected 112 by the end of 2019.

We’ve reached out to Boeing to inquire on specifics for companies who are purchasing the excess materials, and will update if we learn more on what, where and when you can buy.

Featured image courtesy of Boeing.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.