Improving end-of-life treatment of aircraft and electronic devices – Le Devoir

This text is part of the special issue 150 years of Polytechnique Montréal

Faced with a growing problem, Polytechnique Montréal has taken the lead in launching research avenues to promote e-waste recycling and proposing environmentally friendly solutions for aircraft graveyards.

At a time when major airlines are working to make their fleets less polluting, a major problem remains to be solved. This is the recycling of devices at the end of their lifespan, which after 25 years of good and loyal service usually end their journey nailed down in eerie cemeteries with devastating potential for the planet. While the International Air Transport Association estimates that an average of 700 aircraft are taken out of service each year, the situation risks quickly spiraling out of control.

Therefore, it is better to deal with the matter immediately. Samira Keivanpour, professor in the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, started the CIRCLE project with the aim of promoting and making sustainable the management of end-of-life aircraft in urban areas of Quebec. “It is about relying on an innovative cluster to create research and business opportunities and achieve scientific, social and environmental benefits,” confides the researcher.

Partner of your choice

“Aircraft recycling presents several challenges, from the decontamination of hazardous materials to the dismantling process. It requires time and manpower with very specific knowledge,” adds Ms. Keivanpour, who works hand in hand with Aerocycle, one of the few companies in Canada specializing in aircraft recycling, and Safran, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of aviation equipment, which is supporting the funding uses more sustainable aviation.

At the same time, Polytechnique Montréal hosted the UNESCO Chair in Green and Sustainable Electronics to find solutions to reduce the damage caused by this waste, which poses a serious threat to biodiversity. Certain regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan countries, where much of the e-waste originating from North America and Europe is collected, are particularly exposed to the problem.

Waste that should be recycled

The urgency of the situation requires improving the life cycle of electronic products, but also the use of biomass materials in the manufacturing process of these devices. “On the one hand, we have fewer and fewer chemical components, but on the other hand, we are constantly accumulating electronic waste. Between these two extremes, we need to think about solutions by pooling our skills and creating networks,” explains Clara Santato, professor in the Department of Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montréal.

As the person responsible for the new UNESCO Chair, which brings together Canadian, African and European researchers, the researcher is investigating the possibility of integrating natural materials from food and forestry waste into the production of batteries. “We have to stop talking about waste in general,” emphasizes Ms. Santato. “More precisely, you can say that there are phases in the life of materials. And at each stage we can find a function for these materials. »

This content was created by Le Devoir’s Special Publications team, reporting to Marketing. The editors of Le Devoir did not take part.

To watch in the video