Singaporean start-up Nandina REM will begin producing aerospace-grade carbonfibre from materials reclaimed from retired aircraft, a move it believes will help cut emissions from the production process. 

Nandina says it is looking to “bridge the gap between unused materials from retired aircraft and the growing demand from manufacturing industries for high-quality resources”. 

Nandina REM and ASTAR

Source: Nandina REM

(From left) Nandina REM chief executive Karina Cady, chief commercial officer Allison Nam, operations chief Dazril Phua, and A*Star’s Jonathan Low

It believes its “novel approach” to reclaiming carbonfibre “addresses the long-standing” challenge of ensuring material integrity and quality, given that, unlike metals, the composite cannot simply be melted down and reformed. 

“By reclaiming high-value materials from end-of-life aircraft, markets have access to new sources of ultra-low-emission, high-quality carbonfibre composites that are comparable in quality to virgin materials, and cost less,” Nandina states. 

It is working with Singapore public sector research agency A*Star, and is a member of the body’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre. Under the partnership, Nandina and A*Star will work on profiling aircraft undergoing disassembly, as well as separating materials into different “resource streams” and facilitating the recovery of high-grade fibres. 

“These high-quality materials will be accessible to manufacturers for a variety of products, including aircraft cabin galleys and seats. This availability enables emissions reductions from the production process, compared to virgin carbonfibre materials,” it says, claiming the process could eliminate 1 gigatonne of greenhouse gas emissions from the global supply chain by 2030. 

Chief executive Karina Cady says: “Reclaiming high-quality circular materials from end-of-life aircraft is a key industry achievement which will unlock a multitude of possibilities for both aviation and advanced manufacturing.” 

Nandina sees the number of aircraft decommissioned globally as a large opportunity, noting that the Asia Pacific region generates the largest share of retirements. The company announced in October 2023 plans to also recycle aluminium from aircraft into high-grade ‘low-carbon’ aluminium. 

The announcement comes amid ongoing research into the recycling of aircraft carbon composites at the end-of-service. Boeing, for instance, is working with universities and private-sector companies to find ways to recycle aerospace-grade composite waste.