Nandina REM Makes a Breakthrough in Aviation Circularity

  • 22 Feb 2024
L-R: Nandina REM senior executives Karina Cady, CEO, Allison Nam, CCO, Dazril Phua, COO, alongside Dr. Jonathan Low, Coordinating Director (R&D) from ARTC, A*STAR

Nandina REM and A*STAR collaborate to lead the way in high-quality carbon fiber recovery technologies

On 19 February 2024, Nandina REM announced the launch of high-quality carbon fibre material recovered from retired aircrafts and reprocessed to meet aviation standards. This innovative initiative aims to bridge the gap between unused materials from end-of-life aircrafts and the rising demand for top-notch resources in manufacturing industries, and also to tackle the persistent challenge of retaining the mechanical properties of reclaimed carbon fiber to match those of its virgin counterpart.

Given that carbon fiber is a composite material, conventional recycling techniques is challenging as the material cannot be simply melted down and reformed. Moreover, such traditional processes often compromise material integrity and quality, making them unsuitable for advanced applications. Therefore, by salvaging valuable resources from retired aircraft, the industry gains access to high-quality, ultra-low emission carbon fiber composites that rival virgin materials in quality, at a reduced cost.

The initial phase of this project was achieved through close collaboration between Nandina REM and A*STAR. By harnessing A*STAR’s expertise in intelligent automation, multi-material segregation processes, and sustainable material recovery, the focus on this joint effort is on profiling and disassembling end-of-life aircraft components to separate materials into specific resource streams, enabling the retrieval of high-quality carbon fibers.

These premium materials will be provided to manufacturers for various applications, such as aircraft cabin galleys and seats. This new availability allows reduced emissions during the manufacturing process compared to using new carbon fiber materials[1]. The procedures are also fully traceable from start to finish, ensuring transparency in emissions measurement and reduction, as well as sourcing assurance.

Prof Lim Keng Hui, Assistant Chief Executive, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), A*STAR, said, “Recognising the aviation sector’s commitment to achieving net-zero goals, A*STAR is dedicated to collaborating with industry partners from the ecosystem to advance circularity in processes. Through capabilities in advanced manufacturing, materials and green processes, we aim to make substantial contributions to reduce emissions by partnering with companies like Nandina REM.”

Commenting on this new milestone, Karina Cady, CEO, Nandina REM, said, “Reclaiming high-quality circular materials from end-of-life aircrafts is a key industry achievement which will unlock a multitude of possibilities for both aviation and advanced manufacturing. This would not have been possible without tapping into the deep industry expertise of A*STAR as our valued partner, and demonstrates the importance of collaboration in tackling the most pertinent green challenges in our industries. We are excited to catalyse this first major step in advancing aviation circularity, working with industry to incorporate these new materials into their products, which is in line with our mission to cut 1 gigatonne of greenhouse gas emissions from global supply chains by 2030.”

[1]Journal of Cleaner Production (Vol 378, Dec 2022). Cradle-to-Gate life cycle assessment of recycling processes for carbon fibers: A case study of ex-ante life cycle assessment for commercially feasible pyrolysis and solvolysis approaches.

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