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Boeing and BMW collaborate on composite recycling

By: Rhoda Miel

December 12, 2012

SEATTLE (Dec. 12, 1:20 p.m. ET) — Two of the most high profile names in carbon fiber production for transportation are collaborating on a project to develop recycling for the composite.

Part of the agreement between Boeing Co. and BMW AG calls for the companies to share carbon fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation, BMW announced Dec. 12.

The collaboration between the two, signed in Boeing’s home city of Seattle, is the first for the two companies in the history of either company, BMW said.

Boeing uses carbon fiber extensively in its new 787 Dreamliner, with 50 percent of the jet made from the composite. BMW, based in Munich, Germany, has been using carbon fiber in production cars for more than 10 years and in 2013 begins selling its carbon fiber bodied i3 car with its i8 sedan to follow shortly after that.

“Through this cooperation, we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions,” said Herbert Diess, a member of the BMW board for development, in a news release.

The collaboration agreement will focus on recycling of the material both during production and at the end of life for the products.

Boeing’s Larry Schneider, vice president of product development, said the companies need to find ways to reclaim and re-use carbon fiber for new manufacturing.

In addition to being home to Boeing’s headquarters, the state of Washington also is the site of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC, a joint venture between BMW and SGL Group in Moses Lake, Wash., to produce carbon fibers exclusively for BMW’s use.

BMW also has its own in-house facility in Wackersdorf, Germany, to make the carbon fibers into fabrics, which are then processed at its plant in Landshut, Germany, to make the composite body components.