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GKN Aerospace has signed an agreement with Recycled Carbon Fibre (RCF) Birmingham, UK, to recycle the uncured carbon waste from its aero structure manufacturing operation in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK.
The recycling will take place at RCF’s carbon recycling facility in the West Midlands, and GKN estimates that approaching 100 metric tonnes of carbon waste from the Cowes site will be recycled in the next 12 months as part of this cost neutral agreement. They say the recycled material will be used in a wide variety of products including paints and coatings, thermoplastic polymers, composite tooling and deep sea buoyancy products.
Rich Oldfield, Director of Technology, GKN Aerospace explains “Our composite research facility has been working with RCF for some time and our aim now is to commence a programme that will ultimately establish recycling as an integral part of our full production manufacturing process in the UK, and globally. With the global market for aircraft predicted to grow and ambitious targets set for CO2 emissions and noise reduction, the performance benefits gained from using composite structures in many areas of the airframe and engine have become critical. This is clearly reflected in the growth in the percentage of composite structure in the latest generation of aircraft – which has reached some 50% by weight.”
Oldfield continues, “To balance the performance and environmental gains achieved through using composites in aircraft operations it is vital the industry progresses towards greener manufacture on a number of fronts and we believe an effective recycling process is at the heart of that progression.”
Steve Line, Managing Director of RCF added: “Until now, the only solutions for disposing of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) waste have been landfill or incineration, both of which are harmful to the environment. The unique RCF process allows GKN Aerospace to act in an environmentally friendly way. From RCF’s point of view, the GKN Aerospace waste will be an important part of our feedstock supply in the coming years. ”
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