Mobile dismantling and material recovery of discarded aircrafts.
The development of airplanes took little account of the recyclability of the materials in the past. That is why the longevity of aircrafts (life expectancy of ca. 30 years) makes the recycling of composite end-of-life aircraft very complex. Today, the recycling is still very inadequate in the different life cycle phases of aircraft.
In Germany, it is a new business to use end-of-life aircraft as a resource . Companies in the U.S. and in France, however, dismantle old jets for some years. The focus of the recycling firms previously focused primarily on high quality structural components: Powerful turbines, landing gear and cockpit electronics bring in a several million euros as second-hand goods. For many older aircrafts spare parts are scarce. But also the raw materials used to construct the machine are becoming increasingly interesting for recyclers.
Keske is developing a mobile task force for that product-service system. This includes scrap shears and special tools, as well as the necessary technology for extracting oil, gas and kerosene. Within one month, the reycling unit will be ready for operation anywhere in the world. Two to three experts from Keske will travel to the aircraft cemetery. Locally, the company will then hire workers and rent standard machines such as excavators. Within a few days the team should dismantle an aircraft, dry up the airplane and chop up the materials into thousands of pieces. In early 2013, the Keske dismantling unit shall be available.
The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the federal programme "SME Innovation".
Barriers and Drivers
The recycling of aircrafts is expected to be profitable in the coming years due to high-value recycling parts and altogether large volumes which could be an important driver of this service.
The major logistical and administrative efforts could be an obstacle to a wider spread of the service.
Airbus and Boeing expect to discharge 6,500 to 8,500 of their machines from the market until 2028 - up to 450 airplanes per year; the scrap value is currently estimated at around 100,000 EUR.
End-of-life aircraft are often not parked in Europe, but especially in Africa, South America and Asia; local job opportunities.
Waste reduction by dismantling of end-of-life aircraft and recovery of materials, Environmental benefits locally; within a pilot project dismantling a A300 airbus, specialists gathered over 60 tonnes of recyclable materials from the jet; including 46 tons of aluminum and several tons of steel, titanium, copper and high-grade plastics. The recycling rate at the time was 85 percent.
Jeanvré, Sebastian (2012): Flugzeug-Recycling – Neue Ansätze zur Rohstoffrückgewinnung, in: Karl J. Thomé-Kozmiensky, Daniel Goldmann (2012): Recycling und Rohstoffe – Band 5 – Neuruppin: TK Verlag Karl Thomé-Kozmiensky, pp. 457-468.
Picture: © KESKE Entsorgung GmbH