1 December 2016
Raw Material Life Cycle in Boeing 787 Airframe
The aerospace industry has just recently aged past one hundred years old, and in doing so has revolutionized the concept of travel. Trade has evolved from local to global, and because of this, businesses from around the world take advantage of resources that can’t be found locally. Boeing, a prominent company in the aerospace industry, has continued to lead the advancements in aircraft technology. It’s most recent aircraft is the Boeing 787. The Boeing 787 uses a combination of titanium, aluminum and most significantly carbon fiber to its newest plane that allows it to break all previous standards in airplane design. As we enter a new era of material advancements, Boeing is taking advantage of these advancements in their new Boeing 787 Airliner, in which a life cycle analysis will be implemented to determine the effects of these materials in every aspect of the life cycle.
After overcoming many obstacles, the Boeing 787 had designed and manufactured the airplane of the future. The airframe of the 787 was made of roughly50% composites, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium and the rest being a mix of steel and plastics. In comparison, the older Boeing 777, was composed of 50% aluminum, and 12% composite . This dramatic increase in composites put the Boeing 787 in uncharted territories regarding reliability and the lifetime analysis.
Carbon fiber has never been used as the primary material on an airliner as it is on the 787. Yet, carbon fiber is best known for its high strength to weight ratios. Carbon fiber has a tensile strength much greater than both aluminum and steel. Yet, this strength is paired with the incredibly low weights, saving over 50% of the weight used in metals. This characteristic allows carbon fiber to substitute metals, while decreasing weight. Carbon fiber is used in many parts of the 787 including the forward fuselage, center fuselage, tail, horizontal stabilizers, and wings. One of Boeing’s main carbon fiber suppliers is Toray. The process in which Toray produces their carbon fiber is not open to the public but the general process of producing carbon fiber is known.
The manufacturing process of carbon fiber starts with a fiber material called the precursor. The most commonly used in the manufacturing process is an acrylic precursor. These precursors contain a rough, fiber material called polyacrylonitrile (PAN). PAN is a synthetic organic polymer resin produced is by treating hydrogen cyanide with acetylene . The first step in forming carbon fiber is polymerization, the precursor is blended together with a plasticized acrylic comonomers and a catalyst . The polymerization leads to the production of acrylon. This leads to the formation of free radicals and ensures that the material is consistent and pure. After this acrylonitrile, which is now in powder form, is dissolved into an organic solvent which forms a slurry material. The next step is a process called spinning, in which the slurry is immersed in a liquid coagulation bath and pulled through holes of the desired size and quantity to make long fibers. In order to stabilize the fibers, they must be oxidized heating it to temperatures up to 300 Celsius. This allows for the fiber density to increase. Afterwards, the fibers must be carbonized. This is done by heating the fibers to very high temperatures in an area with absolutely no oxygen exposure. This process prevents the fibers from burning and causes the carbon strands to expel any non-carbon atoms in the strands. At this point, a product exists that is strong, but doesn’t bond well with anything. So the surface must be treated by slightly oxidizing the surface. This increases the bonding properties and also etches the surface to aid in mechanical bonding. Lastly the fibers are sized, which is a process that coats the fibers in a material to protect them during the winding-weaving process. The final carbon fibers are spun onto bobbins and stored .
The fibers are woven into sheets with the necessary orientations, needed by the manufacturer. To make carbon fiber parts, first a mold must be made of the desired part. The carbon fiber sheet is flattened along the mold and applied resin. The carbon fiber is then heated to harden it in the shape of the mold. Finally the mold is removed and the carbon fiber piece is ready.
The transportation of carbon fiber bobbins or pieces is usually through a means of shipping, flying, or driving. Fossil fuels allow for these methods of transportation to function. The final assembly of these parts is then sent to the main Boeing plant in Everett, Washington to put together the final assembly.
Once the airframe is assembled and put into use, there is no raw material that it uses to function. As long as there are no structural defects detected, the carbon fiber will accomplish its purpose with absolutely no consumption of any materials. On the other hand, if there is a rupture or denting in the carbon fiber, then more carbon fiber is needed. According to an ex-engineer that worked on the maintenance of planes, including the Boeing 787, when such a scenario occurred, the area of the rupture would be cut out and a sheet of carbon fiber would be applied either on the outside or inside of the area to plug the area .
Unfortunately, there are no commercially widespread operations in which composites can be recycled. Boeing has been working with 3rd party companies to develop a system in which to do so. They have had some success in taking carbon fiber from old 777 or 787 and repurposing them for new tasks. Their findings suggest that by recovering, recycling and substituting carbon fiber from 2014 into manufacturing applications, it will save enough electricity to power 175,000 homes a year .
Carbon fiber is not without its drawbacks. Carbon fiber is more expensive than aluminum, but less than titanium. In addition it is not as easy as to fix as a metal would be. That is because carbon fiber is also not completely understood as a material itself. It will need great amounts of research to benefit from the potential of carbon fiber.
Aluminum is a veteran to airframe design. It has a higher strength to weight ratio than steel. Some benefits of aluminum include: being inexpensive, a higher strength to weight ratio than steel and high availability. In the 787, Boeing has partnered with the international behemoth Alcoa, to supply aluminum which is used in the tail and the horizontal stabilizers .
Alcoa has bauxite mining operations across the globe . Bauxite is a rock that is composed of the primary ore of aluminum. Bauxite is mined from the Earth and sent to alumina, aluminum oxide, refineries. At these refineries the bauxite is exposed to a series of techniques in order to extract alumina from the bauxite. Bauxite is first mixed with sodium hydroxide and heated under pressure, to separate into iron oxide and sodium aluminate. Then by taking aluminum hydroxide and mixing with sodium aluminate, alumina precipitates from the reaction as powder.
The alumina is taken to be smelted into aluminum. The alumina is dissolved with sodium aluminum fluoride and other materials. The liquid bath goes through a process of electrolysis, in which a current is sent through the bath. This allows for the aluminum to split from the oxygen. The liquid aluminum is cooled in the form it is needed . The aluminum is then shipped across the world to the site it is needed. Depending on the site it is needed, the aluminum can be made put through an array of mechanical manufacturing techniques to achieve the final part. After the assembled part of the airframe is completed, it would be shipped to Everett, Washington for final assembly.
Aluminum and aluminum alloys do not require any materials during usage, but if damaged they would require replacement. Maintenance of aluminum parts is very common for airplanes because of aluminums natural properties to fatigue over time, unlike carbon fiber. Just like the carbon fiber, maintenance would require replacement of the part with the same material.
At the end of its lifecycle, the aluminum of the airframe has two ends, either it is banished to aircraft graveyards, or the aluminum is recycled and repurposed for reuse in either newer planes or elsewhere. Also, rather than strip the aluminum itself, there is a huge secondhand market to get parts of old planes, that are still perfectly functional, and use them for maintenance of current ones.
Even though there are efforts to advance aluminum to be competitive with carbon fiber, the battle is an uphill one. Some of the drawbacks of aluminum include its low strength, susceptibility to fatigue and inability to be in contact with carbon fiber and aluminum or else it will corrode and be a major problem to the plane. This leads to a need of increased maintenance checks, taking the plane of the airways for more time than a plane with carbon fiber in the same location.
Lastly, the final important material in the 787 is titanium. Titanium is the most expensive material used in the 787. Yet, its many desirable properties, such as corrosion resistance, non-combustibility, and a high strength to weight ratio, make it very desirable for an aircraft that is wants to stay light but is structurally stable . In the 787, titanium is used on parts of the wings. It is usually used in areas where aluminum and carbon fiber may interact. A bulk of the world’s titanium is mined, milled and exported from Russia, leading to contract between VSMPO-AVISMA, and Boeing.
The process of obtaining titanium, similar to aluminum, is by mining. For VSMPO-AVISMA, they mine in the Ural Mountains in which they mine out soil and transfer it to the factories. In the factory, using an array of magnetic and filtering processes, separate the titanium oxide and any other materials. Using an archaic method, called the Kroll process, the titanium oxide can be turned into titanium. The titanium oxide is treated with chlorine, to remove the oxygen from the titanium oxide, to leave titanium chloride. The titanium chloride is subject to a reducing agent, either sodium or magnesium, that separates the chlorides to yield pure titanium. This process is undergone in a sealed reactor where it’s filled with an inert gas avoid oxygen mixing. The final product is pure titanium .
The manufacturing process of titanium is similar to that of aluminum in which through a process of mechanical manufacturing techniques, the titanium can be turned into the necessary parts it is needed to be. During the use of the plane, the titanium does not require any materials applied to it in order to function appropriately. Similar to aluminum, titanium can either end up in the airline graveyard or be recycled. Processes to completely recycle the titanium are still being researched by Boeing and its partners.
Titanium is an amazing metal that has definitely revolutionized air travel. Its most significant drawback is its expense. Especially in times where there are tensions between the U.S. and Russia, titanium supply can’t always be assumed to be reliable. Boeing understands this and buys titanium in bulk in order to store in case the political environment takes a turn for the worse . In addition to politics, Boeing is barely cutting even with the 787, making them to want to cut the costs of production as much as possible. The first thing to go is the expensive titanium . Currently engineers struggle with that challenge because there is no suitable substitute for the titanium in 787.
Although this report only discusses the life cycle analysis of carbon fiber, aluminum and titanium in the 787; there are other materials used that make the airframe work. These materials include steels, plastics, fiber glass, copper, gold and etc. Relative to the composition of the entire plane, these materials make up less than 10%. These materials are used as fasteners, insulators, wires, gears and many more parts. Although not mentioned here, these components are essential to the success of the 787.
The Boeing 787’s design implementation of the advancements in carbon fiber, aluminum and titanium has made it a leader in airliner technology. Boeing’s struggles, through the manufacturing of these different materials, prove that more research is necessary in order to understand extents of these materials. In addition a very crucial next step for Boeing needs to be recyclability of these three materials. Rather than letting them bake in graveyards, reusing these metals not only saves material costs, but can also save in energy, time, and emissions. The Boeing 787 has set the industry on a new path, where the uncertainties shown in this report need to be answered in order for this new method of material design to become the standard.
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DES 40A, Fall 2016
1, December 2016
Energy in the 787 Dreamliner
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most advanced commercial airframe ever developed. A worldwide effort sustains a supply chain that reaches into over a half-dozen countries. The expected fleet of greater than 1,000 of these aircraft are to be deployed into the world’s fleet, to serve commerce and transit for more than half a century to come. Such a monumental undertaking requires a massive amount of energy to perform. Because the 787 is a product riding the cutting edge of innovation in the age of globalization, and is going to be the workhorse of the future, each aspect of it’s life cycle from raw material acquisition to the inevitable waste products was analyzed to reveal the intense energy expenditure in it’s creation.
Like all things, the primary and unrefined material must be taken from the ground. The system boundary of the 787 includes the three major raw material components of the airframe by weight. These are Carbon Fiber composite, Aluminum, and Titanium. Broken down, the 787 is comprised of 50% Carbon Fiber, 20% Aluminum, 15% Titanium, and a smattering of other components that make up the rest of the construction (Jenks). Carbon Fiber makes up most of the body of the aircraft, Aluminum is used for the leading edges of the flight surfaces, and Titanium is used for critical strength locations or boundary layers. Each of these has an energy intensity associated with it.
The smallest portion of the big three material contributors, Titanium, is by far the most energy intensive of the raw materials. It taken from the ground in open pit mines using heavy machinery. A variety of refinement processes and techniques are used to form it into a material that is useful in many industries, but the chief concern of the building process of the 787 is to refine the Titanium into raw, pure, ingots. This is done in a “vacuum or argon environment,” and the titanium goes on to be formed into a long electrode which is then melted into a crucible with electricity (Seagle). The energy intensity of Titanium is 360 MJ/kg (Dresselhaus), meaning a total of 3,429,155 MJ spent for one 787. Some raw titanium that goes into the 787 is mined by a company Vsmpo Avisma, a Ukrainian company located in a city called Verkhnaya Salda, and is transported to where it is needed.
There are two sources of raw aluminum, primary aluminum and secondary aluminum. Primary Aluminum begins its life as Bauxite ore, with natural deposits existing in Australia, Africa, China, and South America (Burgess), and is refined into alumina before being smelted into aluminum. Secondary aluminum consists of all aluminum produced predominantly from recycled material. The 787 uses both sources in it’s construction. Energy contributors to this process are the heavy machinery used in mining and immense heating for rolling mills. The world’s largest aluminum manufacturer and supplier, Alcoa Inc., is responsible for supplying the aluminum sheets for the 787 among other aircraft (“Alcoa Signs”) and uses the most efficient refining processes possible. Alcoa’s best processes result in a total energy intensity for Aluminum of 46.8 MJ/kg (Alby), resulting in a total of 9,526 MJ for a single airframe. Alcoa Inc supplies bauxite ore is supplied from an open pit mine in Juruti, Brazil, which is then shipped by boat to the United States, transported by train to an aluminum mill in Davenport, Iowa, before finally being supplied to the factory in Kansas that utilizes the aluminum sheets (Alcoa).
Finally, the largest portion component and the most advanced in material science is Carbon Fiber. Carbon Fiber is made from a complicated process that first begins with manipulating chemical compounds starting with propylene and ammonia. From this point, the process varies because each company's procedure is proprietary. In short, the raw material is primed for spinning, carbonizing, and treating. Energy inputs in this creation come from chemical synthesis, autoclaving, and applying the carbon fiber sheets to shaped molds (Zoltek). The energy intensity of Carbon Fiber throughout the refinement process is 286 MJ/kg (Suzuki). The carbon fiber manufacturer for the Japanese factories is a company called Toray, Inc. which is based in Nagoya, Japan (Brosius).
The supply chain for the 787 is nothing short of an entirely globalized system. Every form of transportation available is used; by truck, by train, by ship, and by plane, and they all require energy inputs to move. Boeing is contracted with dozens of companies to supply materials and manufacturing for the 787, so the system boundary was simplified to include the three biggest material contributors, and the seven major components of the airframe. These are the nose section, forward, center, & aft fuselages, the center wing box, the wings, tail and horizontal stabilizer (Boeing). These large components are manufactured in many different countries, with final assembly happening in the largest building in the world, Boeing’s factory in Everett, Washington (Wilhelm).
Most components of Boeing’s 787 are transported via air, around the world, before being assembled. In Japan, three heavy industry companies manufacture the center wing box, wings, and forward fuselage section. These companies Fuji, Mitsubishi, and Kawasaki, are located in the city of Nagoya. These factories roll carbon fiber, supplied from Toray, on to massive rotating drums that act as a mold for the final component. They are then cooked in the largest autoclaves in the world, requiring massive amounts of energy. Likewise, a company in Italy, called Alenia, manufactures the center fuselage and horizontal stabilizers in the same fashion. Finally, the forward fuselage of the plane is manufactured by Boeing’s factory in Charleston, South Carolina, again using the same carbon fiber methods. These parts are then transported thousands of miles via a specially retrofitted Boeing 747, called the Dreamlifter, which flies the completed sub assemblies to Everett for final assembly. Jetliners are fairly efficient forms of transportation, with 43.71 MJ/kg of jet fuel’s harnessable energy (Elert). The Dreamlifter has a fuel efficiency of 0.09 miles per gallon of jet fuel, which sounds terrible, but is actually excellent when considering the weight of what is being transported. Thus, the energy spent in flying components around the world was found to be 14,161,802 MJ. It would take a single 3 MW wind turbine 55 days to supply this energy (Watch).
Shipping is by far the most energy intensive operation in the supply chain. In the case of the Dreamliner, raw materials are shipped using the standard methodology of container ships. Titanium from Ukraine is shipped through the mediterranean sea and atlantic ocean, making a pass through the panama canal before arriving at Everett, Washington. The bauxite ore from Brazil is likewise transported by ship to a port in the gulf of mexico, before being transported by rail to the aluminum rolling mill in Davenport, Iowa, which is then shipped by truck to the relevant factories that employ the resulting metals. These massive container ships average almost 30 mph with their 90 MW engines (Evans). Trucks are well known to have the fuel economy of 6.5 miles per gallon (Berg). These values are low compared to the common car, but when accounting for tonnage of cargo transported are actually quite efficient. However, in stark contrast to these values is the mighty train, which is the most efficient form of transportation that exists. A single gallon of diesel fuel can move one ton of cargo 500 miles (BNSF). The energy investment in the shipping of Dreamliner components and materials is a not so paltry 183,570,274 MJ, which would take the average solar panel’s 275 watt power output (Aggarwal) 21,511 years to deliver.
Once inside the largest building in the world, the Everett assembly line, people get to work fusing the components into one. Massive cranes lift the components as they are slowly navigated into place. Once in position, simple bolts connects one part to another, driven by power tools wielded by humans (Joiner). In the factory, dozens of work crews install various subsystems and assemblies over the course of the aircraft’s three day stay (787Blogger).
After the 787 is assembled it is delivered to the customer airline under it’s own power, immediately, to enter a 30 year lifetime of service. During this period, energy inputs are negligible, as replacing broken fuselage parts is a rare occurrence and costs little by way of energy, especially when compared to the hundreds of millions of megajoules of energy that is spent in the fabrication. When it comes time to finally retire the aircraft, it is flown to one of several designated locations where it is torn apart for scrap. The airplane boneyard is where planes go to be recycled, and they are usually located in the arid climate of the American southwest’s deserts (Mutzabaugh). Here, human power is what dismantles the innards of the aircraft, selling and recycling any part they can salvage (Devenish). After the insides have been stripped out, the task of salvage falls to a CAT hydraulic excavator (How Do They Do It?), which uses its massive mechanical arm to rip apart the long lived airframe to be recycled into a myriad of common household products. The task of shredding the plane takes only 45 minutes, and with the CAT’s 300 horsepower engine (CAT) only a paltry 796 MJ of energy is spent in the boneyard.
Altogether, the embodied energy of a single Boeing 787 Dreamliner airframe is upwards of 200,000,000 MJ of energy. This energy could sustain the average household’s power requirement of 10,812 kWh (Eia) per year for over 5,000 years. Now consider that at the time of this writing, only 480 Dreamliners have entered service, and 728 are still on order. This is indicative of the ever connecting web of globalization, something that demands more energy than really is comprehensible.
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27 November 2016
Boeing 787 Life Cycle Assessment: Waste
As developed society becomes steadily reliant on technological innovation to keep pace with its transportation-related energy consumption, companies such as SpaceX and Boeing find themselves struggling to counteract the resulting waste and emissions. One common concern is the rising level of greenhouse gas emissions, such as nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, from the aviation industry. Another concern is the lack of an efficient method of recycling planes as they reach their end of service. In response to the aforementioned concerns, as well as others, Boeing has issued the Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jet as the flagship of an aviation industry seeking to minimize its environmental impact. An analysis of the different elements of the life cycle of the airframe of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, specifically its waste and emissions, suggests that, within the environmentally caustic aviation industry, the Boeing 787 represents an essential, and long overdue, initial step in making air transport more efficient. It also reveals that, given the projected rate of growth of reliance on jet transportation, Boeing’s industry-leading commitment to innovating environmentally sustainable aviation practices is set to be outpaced by exponentially increasing demand.
From the beginning of production, raw materials and parts of the Dreamliner are collated from all around the world. Major raw materials and components of the Dreamliner include steel, titanium, aluminium, and carbon fiber composites. Many raw materials, especially titanium, must undergo immensely complex processing before they reach a usable state, producing exorbitant amounts of waste from mining and processing . Materials for different sections of the airplane are processed at various locations. For example, through an exclusive contract with TMX, a company under ThyssenKrupp AG (a global supply chain manager based in Germany), Boeing is supplied aluminium and steel through an international provider rather than a United States-based company . These companies often rely on mines in often undeveloped countries, such as Brazil and the Republic of Guinea in Africa, which already bear the heavy costs of the outsourcing of environmental degradation. Even developed countries, such as Japan — the main producer of carbon fiber for the Dreamliner — have several locations for Dreamliner section assembly. Domestically, while the primary assembly site lies in Washington, Boeing relies on several locations across the entire United States (including South Carolina, Wichita, and the Port of Texas) and even contracts corporations for specific aluminum and titanium parts that assemble in two separate locations . Just a cursory, global view of the system hints at the heavy price tag of waste and emissions. Since fossil fuels are used in the transportation of the raw materials to the various assembly sites via planes, trains, ships, and other aircraft, the jets have begun both consuming massive amounts of energy and expelling physical and gaseous waste in raw materials acquisition and shipping before they are able to take a basic shape.
While the aviation industry is known for its overall hyper-attention to efficiency, it is important to note that certain steps of the lifecycle of air transport vehicles cost much in waste. Processing certain raw materials into secondary raw materials is largely inefficient. The smelting of steel, used minimally and mostly for landing gear purposes, represents a substantial environmental obstacle in itself, as MIT states, “Production of a ton of steel generates almost two tons of CO2 emissions . . . accounting for as much as 5 percent of the world’s total greenhouse-gas emissions” . In an article in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, coauthored by an interdisciplinary research team in the UK, aluminium acquisition is described as such, “For the average commercial aircraft the buy-to-fly ratio [amount of metal used to manufacture a part] is estimated at being 8:1” . This is especially significant given that steel, titanium, and aluminium make up forty five percent of the total materials used for the Dreamliner’s frame. Additionally, producing one ton of aluminium requires the mining of four to five tons of bauxite ore and results in the physical waste of thirteen tons of waste rock and toxic mud . Despite the dour statistics, aluminium is both highly abundant in the earth’s crust as well as being efficiently recycled and steel is used sparingly in the overall design of the Dreamliner. This is indicative of the overall story behind the aviation industry’s relationship to waste and emissions; while passenger jets are the products of detrimental processes, they are often able to increase efficiencies in other areas.
In the second phase of construction, which is when finished raw materials are processed into sections and parts, the decentralized creation of multiple sections of the airframe, represents a consequential energy cost. Take for instance, Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites, which make up the other half of the materials of the jet’s frame. While carbon fiber has been praised for decreasing the overall weight of passenger jets by 20%, it must undergo highly complex processing . Its creation is responsible for using more energy and for releasing more greenhouse gases than steel . And although Boeing has expressed that it is searching for a solution, there are currently no CFRP recycling initiatives in place. Given the thirty-year lifespan of the Dreamliner, Boeing must find an efficient method with which to reuse their copious amounts of carbon fiber. Similar inefficiencies are noted in section assembly, which occurs at various locations due to the aforementioned multiplicity of contracts Boeing holds with factories.
While in use, the airframe itself does not represent a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions or waste. In fact, due to Boeing’s highly innovative designs, maintenance on the existing Boeing 787s is largely minimal. Powering the turbines of the plane using jet fuel remains a noteworthy source of waste and emissions. Due to the reliance on lightweight CFRP material, the airframe is 20% lighter than existing passenger jets. Dreamliners’ lighter structures cause decreased dependence on high levels of fuel. On the other hand, greenhouse gases emitted from fuel combustion at high altitudes are subject to increased exposure and combination with other toxic gases that danger the atmosphere . In other words, while the emissions from the automobile industry may outweigh that of the aviation industry, the effects of the gaseous releases can be more permanent and more detrimental to both humans and the earth. The lack of a recycling program for the amount of Dreamliners detracts from the low maintenance required during its use. The short lifespans and high emission outputs of the passenger jets do nothing to counteract the questionability of reuse. However, the Dreamliner airframe ultimately benefits from requiring little attention and maintenance while in use.
Despite the triumphs of efficiencies in fuel useage and structural improvements, the Dreamliner is not set to counter the rising demand for air transport. Consumer demand, coupled with the price of oil, plays a large role in forming the path of technical innovations of the aviation industry. A study notes that, “...this pace of change is not sufficient to counter the projected annual 4%-6% growth in demand for air transport . . . unless measures are taken to significantly alter the dominant historical rates of change in technology and operation, the impacts of aviation emissions on local air quality and climate will continue to grow” . While many would assert that these concerns are trivial in the face of the pace of the globalized economy and that the aviation industry is continuously innovating quickly enough to remain a viable and preferable mode of transportation, it is essential to note that Dreamliner production is projected to double the current amount of passenger jets by 2030. At current processing efficiencies, this suggests a massive use of materials tied to steep environmental consequences.
As any discussion of waste and emissions infers observation from a macro or large-scale level, research for this project revealed a few key takeaways. One is that Boeing, and similar companies, have a large hand in responding to policies enacted by governments looking to reduce waste and emissions. Another is that atmospheric emissions from passenger jets are harder to quantify than physical amounts of waste in refinement and assembly processes with raw materials. It is harder to trace the carbon footprint or general waste of a product with such a long chain of outsourced production in general. Unlike consistent weights or standard units of energy measurements, waste and emissions occur at different levels and in different respects. While attention to the environment would benefit Boeing by guaranteeing sources of materials by letting them renew naturally and preventing large scale disaster or the obsolescence of a material, they would also be well served by from modifying their current supply chain system to centralize production and reduce costly processing and transportation steps. Additionally, outlining and solidifying processes for recycling both carbon fiber elements and structural plane elements beyond the airframe must be mandated.
There is no doubt that Boeing has proven its commitment to innovation and sustainability. However the tension between the aviation industry and its relationship to the recently realized lack of fungibility in resource renewability on such a massive scale still stands. Other Boeing projects, such as SUGAR, explore the possibility of alternate fuel sources and increased innovations of the existing parameters of the aviation industry. The analysis of the waste and emissions over the entirety of the life cycle of an airframe of the technologically advanced, cutting edge Boeing Dreamliner 787 only reminds us that the earth has a finite amount of resources and that we would do well to think twice before booking our next flight.
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