World premiere first flight with recycled composite
For the first time, an aeronautical part made from recycled composite was successfully made to fly. “This is a textbook example of applied research. We are saving 80% in CO2 emissions, 9% in weight and one-third of the costs.” – Ferrie van Hattum explained why this is such a special occasion on BNR News Radio. He is the director of ThermoPlastic Application Center, located at Saxion University of Applied Science in Enschede, East Netherlands.
“This is how we actively contribute to developing industrial value chains in Europe.”
The part in question is an access panel in the aeroplane’s tail section. Rest material produced during the production of large tail components is reused in smaller tail components. By precisely cutting and mixing the material it was possible to retain long fibres, and therefore also retain the necessary strength.
East Netherlands is at the forefront with Thermoplastic Composite: an extremely light and strong material which is already used in the production of series components by GKN Fokker in Hoogeveen. Subsequently, the parts are purchased by aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus. Composite materials derived from home, garden and kitchen are already recycled into roadside posts and garden benches, but not into this high-tech material, and certainly not in airplanes.
TPAC’s goal in particular is to find medium and high-end uses. Now, for the first time, they have succeeded in using recycled thermoplastic composite in a market that has very high standards. Van Hattem, lecturer at Saxion and board member of Composites-NL, now expects to make a breakthrough towards more high-end applications.
The TPAC developed the access panels together with partners TPRC, Nido Recyclingtechnologie, Toray Advanced Composites, Cato Composites, Dutch Thermoplastic Components and GKN Fokker Aerospace. Regional development agency Oost NL assisted with TPAC’s planning in the early phase and the collaboration with TRPC in the TPC-NL Fieldlab, and composite companies in the East Netherlands ecosystem such as Toray and Cato.