Long Term Environmental Effect of Plastics, Composites and Other Materials on Underground Water Supplies through Leaching and Decay.
Today we see old airliners lined up in the desert, which are made of aluminum for the most part. We know what these aircraft are made of and we also see the scrap value of aluminum. So much of them will eventually be recycled in the future. We know that when some composites burn they will unleash cyanide gas when they burn. What can we expect from them when they start decomposing? How long will this take, some say that certain composites and coatings made to withstand extremely high temperatures as well as near absolute zero temperatures that the life and decomposition period could be thousands of years? Maybe, probably not, not much man has ever created lasts very long exposed to the solar radiation bombardment of Earth, weather of freezing and heat, however surely it appears that it must eventually decompose? So then what is the answer to the question? We can simulate the exposure to solar radiation and we can simulate the extreme heat, salt spray, extreme cold, acid rain, etc, yet we see no relevant studies on this. We ought to know what we are working with here and how we might better re-use those components.
The 7E7 will have just about 50% of the aircraft made of composite, the 777 just under 12%. The 7E7 which maybe renamed the 787 has many orders coming in now, JAL just committed to at least 50 aircraft.
The 777s will be retiring soon, let's say 10 years, not too long. Many Airbus models have composite vertical stabilizers right now rotting in the sun so the natural test of the decomposition of this not so natural product is already beginning whether or not we know what will happen. If the structural integrity for a vertical stabilizer is gone, then can that material be cut up into squares, coated and used for insulation? Is it safe too? Remembering our unfortunate hard lessons of Asbestos, a benign substance, but the human lungs go berserk when they come in contact with it. Can it be used in the roof structures of floating airports, between the walls of the double-hulled oil tankers for strength or under sidewalks? Can it be sliced up and used for retaining wall stakes? Can it be used for school bus top non-rusting reinforcement due to its lightweight and ability to withstand the elements? If not, then for what? If so, why not?
We need answers so we can continue developing these new materials, with the knowledge of what they can and cannot do. If we are going to put these materials in Space Stations, Satellites, Deep Sea Submersibles, Automobiles, Aircraft, etc then we best have the data available on the decomposition rates to prevent accidents and environmental issues far into the future.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs