BMW and Boeing colaborate on Carbon Fiber Recycling

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The BMW Group and Boeing Aerospace have signed an agreement to collaborate and partner in joint research for carbon fiber recycling. The two companies have also agreed to share manufacturing knowledge and explore automation opportunities.

BMW is pioneering carbon fiber usage in a production automobile with the upcoming BMW i3 and BMW i8 electric vehicles. Both EVs will use carbon fiber passenger compartments placed on top of a sub frame. Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner is made of 50 percent carbon fiber material to produce a lighter and stronger fuselage.

Recycling the composite material during the manufacturing process and at the end of the product life cycle is 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 years of experience with the carbon fiber usage in aviation and BMW has earned significant competitive advantage through its special manufacturing methods of the production carbon fiber parts. “Through this cooperation we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions.”

“This collaboration agreement is a very important step forward in developing the use and end use of carbon fiber materials,” said Larry Schneider, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of Product Development, who represented Boeing at the signing in Seattle.

The Washington State Governor was instrumental in securing the BMW carbon fiber plant location in Moses Lake, WA and also promoted the partnership between BMW and Boeing. “This exciting partnership between two global players and industry leaders is a win for our state,” said Governor Christine Gregoire. “I am pleased that BMW and Boeing have joined forces.”

While companies are sharing technology, the Moses Lake WA facility is being used exclusively for production of the carbon fiber body components of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 electric vehicles. These pieces will then be shipped to Leipzig, Germany for final assembly.