Carmaker BMW is planning on using carbon fiber for the production of passenger cells for its i8 plug-in hybrid-electric car and i3 electric car, in addition to using the material in already-existing models such as the M6, the M5 and the M3.
The carbon fiber to be used in the manufacture of the passenger cells will be produced in a Moses Lake plant in Washington co-owned by SGL Group and BMW. Even though the facility is a state-of-the-art one, there is still the need to restructure the carbon fiber part of the production process to help decrease cost.
Another problem arises though, with the inception of the sale of carbon fiber passenger cells in their vehicles. That is, what happens to the parts after a crash or when the vehicle becomes too old to be used? The problem with carbon fiber is that it cannot be used as scrap metal, and cannot also be dumped due to implications on the environment.
In finding a solution to these problems, BMW has collaborated with Boeing in an agreement that the two companies will share ideas with regards to manufacturing, automation of existing processes, and finding ways to recycle the carbon fiber.
The latest in Boeing’s line of aircraft is the 787 Dreamliner, which is made up of 50 percent carbon fiber. Therefore, it is essential for Boeing to plan how these components would be disposed of at the end of the aircraft’s life cycle. Thus, Boeing’s research in this area would be extremely beneficial for BMW.
Board member of BMW, Herbet Diess, on the experienced background of Boeing in the use of carbon fiber, stated, “Boeing for us is a suitable partner for a collaboration in the field of carbon fiber. Through this cooperation we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions.”