A detailed LCA (life cycle assessment) compares forward-looking aircraft interior panels made of renewable or recyclable polymers, natural fibres, and PIN flame retardants, to conventional glass fibre reinforced polymer panels with halogenated flame retardants.
The four non-conventional panels were based on geopolymer (kaolin + silicate), polymerised epoxidised linseed oil, polypropylene and polylactic acid (PLA), in each case reinforced with flax fibres. The flame retardants considered were decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and or different combinations of PIN FRs for the different polymers: borax, organophosphorus compounds, ammonium polyphosphate, graphene, nanoclays, hetonite. The LCA considers materials used, panel manufacturing, transport, use in a Boeing aircraft, maintenance and end-of-life. The use phase accounted for 98% of environmental impact (aircraft fuel consumption and air emissions) and the lower weight of the non-conventional panels resulted in their showing overall much better environmental impact. The non-conventional panels also show significantly lower LCA combined factors for human health, ecosystem diversity and resource consumption. The authors note that these results do not take into account possible health impacts of end-of-life of the halogenated flame retardant.
“Life Cycle Assessment of Novel Aircraft Interior Panels Made from Renewable or Recyclable Polymers with Natural Fiber Reinforcements and Non-Halogenated Flame Retardants”, R. Vidal et al., J. Industrial Ecology 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12544