Comparative life cycle assessment of aluminium and CFRP composites: the case of aerospace manufacturing

May 15, 2024


As climate change intensifies and existing resources are depleted, the need for sustainable industries becomes more important. The aviation industry is actively addressing environmental concerns by enhancing fuel efficiency and adopting lighter materials, especially carbon fibre composites. Research has proven that the use of carbon fibre composites provides cumulative benefits in reducing fuel consumption over the entire life cycle of an aircraft. However, existing studies are lack of a comprehensive exploration of the diverse impacts associated with composite manufacturing processes and recycling methods. To address this gap, a comparative life cycle assessment analysis covering the materials’ manufacturing, operation, and end-of-life phases is conducted. This analysis includes aluminium alloy and five different carbon fibre composite materials produced with varied constituents and manufacturing methods. Composite manufacturing processes, encompassing carbon fibre production, resin selection, and composite manufacturing methods, are considered. Weight savings based on the mechanical properties of utilised composite type are also taken into account. Results highlight the potential to mitigate the environmental impact of composite materials through strategic choices in constituent types, manufacturing processes, and disposal scenarios. Moreover, break-even distances indicate that aluminium becomes more environmentally detrimental than the analysed composite structures beyond a flight distance of 300,000 km.


Atescan-Yuksek, Y., Mills, A., Ayre, D., Koziol, K., & Salonitis, K. (2024). Comparative life cycle assessment of aluminium and CFRP composites: the case of aerospace manufacturing. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology.