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Boeing to Recycle Dreamliner Carbon Fiber

2014-08-27_12-10-51Boeing and Russell Brands are teaming up to recycle excess carbon fiber from 787 Dreamliner production into protective athletic gear.

The companies are expanding on a previous collaboration where 787 carbon fiber is placed into Russell Athletic’s CarbonTek football shoulder pad system.

Boeing currently markets surplus factory materials to meet the company’s environmental and business goals, and sees more opportunities to repurpose carbon fiber as it increases the use of composites in its commercial airplanes.

Composite materials make up 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787, including the fuselage and wing, which helps to make the Dreamliner 20 percent more fuel efficient than the airplane it replaces.

Both Boeing and Russell see significant benefits in using aerospace-grade carbon fiber in protective athletic gear because the carbon filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and greater durability.

Russell’s CarbonTek with OS Technology shoulder pad system has the sports industry’s first-ever exoskeleton made of aerospace-grade carbon fiber, which is thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to those offered by other companies. The high-performance fiber also offers an increased range of motion and secure fit for the athlete’s body.

Boeing has been diligent in its efforts to recycle carbon fiber. Last year it announced that it was working with Oracle Team USA, winner of the 34th America’s Cup, to recycle 7,000 pounds of carbon fiber of USA-71, a yacht built for training during the America’s Cup campaign in 2003.

Boeing is not the only aviation company working to recycle materials from its planes. Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines launched an upcycling initiative to transform 43 acres of used leather seat coverings into new products.

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