Let alone the discussion of recycling in the world, we will soon be using recycled plastics in airplanes where safety rules are at the highest level.
Each aircraft contains an intricate network of electrical wiring that allows it to fly smoothly. About one mile of cable is used for every four passengers on a modern airplane. This means that the average airliner has between 100 and 200 miles of cable kink throughout its structure. Each plane offers different possibilities. All of these require special wiring. As consumer expectations increase, so will the mass of cabling. Mass is a vital metric in aviation, as lighter aircraft use less fuel. Engineers are constantly looking for ways to make airplanes as light as possible while maintaining the best safety and comfort standards to both reduce costs and support sustainability.
It is possible to reduce it by using carbon nanomaterials instead of heavier copper alloys to make planes lighter. Carbon wires can be made from many sources, including recycled plastics. It is possible by transforming these discarded plastics into useful, high-quality cables. To make these wires, plastic materials such as black plastic are often chemically recycled.
Such plastics remain popular because they are strong, light, easily moldable and very inexpensive. But when mixed with other plastics, they tend to cause problems in traditional recycling processes. By dissolving these plastics before recycling, more, better quality new material can be produced. This is promising for large-scale production of electrical cables needed in aerospace.
When we make our lighter wires, we’ll see exactly how eco-friendly they are. To do this, we must count all the carbon dioxide molecules taken up and emitted during the plastic recycling process and compare that carbon count with the number of making copper wire. Interestingly, although the carbon count in our recycling process was much higher compared to industrial copper wire production, the overall environmental impact of copper wire was almost ten times worse. The second process is toxic freshwater impacts that lead to damage to the seas and depletion of the ozone layer. When we compare the projected carbon footprint of a typical commercial airplane (Boeing 747-400) containing our recycled plastic wires or copper wires, we find that making and using recycled wires results in a smaller carbon footprint over the life of the aircraft. Recycled wires will make airplanes lighter, reducing fuel consumption and making them more environmentally friendly in the long run. Using these cables will reduce the emissions of each aircraft by 21 kilotons: equivalent to a carbon dioxide savings of 14,574 kilotons for an average fleet of 694 airplanes.