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PROJECT

SITUATION TODAY

Presently, most of the CFRP waste is landfilled; the airframe of EoL vehicles is usually disposed in desert graveyards, airports, or by landfilling. Currently about 2,000 aircrafts are waiting for EoL solutions. Approximately 400 commercial aircrafts are reaching the end of their life cycle each year and the number of retired aircraft is expected to reach 12,000-14,000 over the next 20 years (AFRA, 2014).
This solution is highly unsatisfactory for several reasons:

Environmental impact: the increasing amount of CFRP produced raises concerns on waste disposal and consumption of non-renewable resources. In fact, the demand on carbon fibers is estimated to increase from 37,000 tons (2011) to 130,000 tons (2020).

Legislation: recent European legislation is enforcing a strict control of composite disposal; the responsibility of disposing EoL composites is now on the component’s manufacturer, legal landfilling of CFRP is limited, and for instance it is required that automotive vehicles disposed after 2015 are 85% recyclable (EU 1999/31/EC; EU 2000/53/EC).

Production cost: CFs are expensive products, both in terms of energy consumed during manufacturing (up to 165 kWh=kg) and material price (up to 45 € per kg).

Management of resources: demand of virgin (v-) CFs usually surpasses supply-capacity (Roberts, 2007), so recycled (r-) CFs could be re-introduced in the market for non-critical applications.

Economic opportunity: disposing of CFRP by landfilling, where not illegal, can cost approximately 0,30 €/kg (Meyer et al., 2007); recycling would convert an expensive waste disposal into a profitable reusable material.