Composites recycling solutions for the aviation industry

Kok Wong, Chris Rudd, Steve Pickering, Xiao Ling Liu

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Ten of thousands of aircraft are expected to retire in the next 20 years. Aircraft manufacturers are gearing up for a new wave of recycling challenges as these aircrafts contain significant higher amount of carbon fibre reinforced polymer composite, which cannot be recycled by the conventional processes designed for metallic alloys. Aircraft manufacturers have been working with the recycling industry to limit unsustainable dismantling that is harmful to the environment and the potential liability risk of re-entry of un-certified salvaged parts back to the aviation market. An organised recycling network and procedures have already been set up for the conventional metallic alloys and will soon be required to include the composite waste. This paper reports the existing aircraft recycling practice and reviews the key recycling technologies for thermoset composites. Energy consumptions of these technologies are sought from the literature and are reported in this paper. Progress in development of reuse options for the recycled fibre is also included with discussion of their advantages and drawbacks. The challenge of working with the fluffy fibre is considered and the benefit of fibre alignment is highlighted for encouraging a widespread use of the fibre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1291-1300
Number of pages10
JournalScience China Technological Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • aviation
  • carbon fibre
  • composite recycling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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