BMW and Boeing have joined forces to research methods of recycling carbon fibre.
Both the BMW Group and Boeing are pioneering the use of carbon fiber in their products. With the release of the BMW i3 in late 2013, followed by the BMW i8, the BMW Group will bring two vehicles with a carbon passenger cell onto the market for the first time and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is made up of 50% carbon fiber material. Recycling composite material at point of use and at the end of the product life is seen as essential to both companies.
“Boeing for us is a suitable partner for a collaboration in the field of carbon fiber”, said Herbert Diess, member of the board of BMW AG for development. “Boeing has many years of extensive experience using carbon fiber in the field of aviation, while the BMW Group has earned a significant competitive advantage through its use of special manufacturing methods for series production of carbon fibre parts. Through this cooperation we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions.”
Larry Schneider, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of product development added: “This collaboration agreement is a very important step forward in developing the use and end use of carbon fiber materials. It is especially important that we plan for the end of life of products made from carbon fiber. We want to look at ways to reclaim and reuse those materials to make new products. Our work with the BMW Group will help us attain that goal.”
As part of the collaboration agreement, Boeing and the BMW Group will share carbon fibre manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation.
As part of its SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC joint venture, the BMW Group has built a new, state-of-the-art carbon fibre plant in Moses Lake, Washington, together with the SGL Group. The plant is an important component in both companies’ strategy to automate production of ultra-light carbon fibre reinforced plastics for use in future vehicle concepts. The carbon fibres produced in Moses Lake will be used exclusively for the BMW Group’s BMW i3 and BMW i8.