How Nandina REM Makes New Aeroplanes From Old Aeroplanes

This is why Karina Cady, the CEO of Nandina REM, sees retired planes as a treasure trove of valuable materials.
by Zat Astha

“How They See It,” is where we delve into the minds of those steering the ships of today’s most dynamic companies. In this installment, we ask Karina Cady about the work she does as CEO of Nandina REM, a trailblazer in the aeroplane recycling industry. She shares a passionate and insightful perspective on the company’s core mission, its transformative impact on aviation, and why the work they’re doing has never been more critical.

Imagine a world where retired aeroplanes are transformed into valuable resources for a greener future instead of rusting away in junkyards. This is the mission I am passionate about at Nandina REM, a company dedicated to decarbonising the aviation industry through a revolutionary approach to aircraft recycling.

The aviation industry plays a crucial role in our world but also comes with a significant environmental cost. Every year, thousands of aeroplanes reach the end of their operational lifespan. Traditionally, these giants of the sky meet a sad fate: They end up in storage facilities or graveyards, slowly deteriorating and potentially causing environmental hazards.

At Nandina REM, we believe there’s a better way. We see these retired aeroplanes not as waste but as a treasure trove of valuable materials.

Through our innovative technology, we are able to recover high-quality materials like carbon fibre and aluminium from these aircraft. These recovered materials are no slouches—they boast the same high-performance qualities as the virgin materials used in building new aeroplanes.

An aeroplane wing stripped. (Photo: Nandina REM)

Reusing, repurposing, reducing

These recovered materials are then given a second lease on life, becoming the building blocks for a sustainable future. The applications are diverse: the same carbon fibre that once formed the wings of a passenger jet could be reborn as part of a brand-new aircraft or even the casing for an electric vehicle battery.

This approach, known as circularity, offers a multitude of benefits. By giving these materials a second life, we reduce our dependence on virgin resources, lowering the environmental impact of extraction and processing. This translates to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — our ambitious goal is to cut emissions by a staggering one gigatonne by 2030.

There’s another exciting aspect to consider. Aeroplanes and electric vehicles share a surprising number of material needs. Estimates show that materials from retired aircraft could produce over 50 million EV batteries by 2030. This creates a powerful synergy between the two industries on the cutting edge of sustainable transportation.

A plane waiting to be recycled. (Photo: Nandina REM)

Challenges and collaboration

Revolutionising an entire industry is no easy feat. One of the biggest hurdles Nandina REM face is shifting mindsets and changing how things have been done for decades. Traditional aircraft recycling methods often involve crushing and mixing materials, rendering them unusable for high-performance applications. Our innovative approach, while demonstrably superior, requires buy-in from various stakeholders across the aviation supply chain.

Collaboration is critical to achieving our goals. We are actively seeking partnerships with companies that share our vision for a sustainable future. Our current collaborations with industry leaders like Sumitomo Corporation and Press Metal are testaments to the growing momentum behind circularity in aviation.

We also need supportive policies from governments around the world. Recognition of circularity as a viable decarbonisation strategy is crucial. Imagine a future where reclaiming materials from high-value assets like aeroplanes becomes the norm, creating a closed-loop system that minimises waste and environmental impact.

A broader vision for sustainability

The potential impact of our work extends far beyond the aviation industry. Circular economy principles can be applied to various sectors, from electronics to construction.

By prioritising reuse and resource recovery, we can collectively reduce our reliance on virgin materials and create a more sustainable future for our planet.

This goes beyond just environmental benefits. Circular approaches can also create new economic opportunities. Imagine small businesses, especially in the developing world, gaining access to high-quality, low-emission materials at competitive prices.

This empowers them to participate in the green economy and create local jobs.

The inside of a stripped-down aeroplane. (Photo: Nandina REM)

A beacon of hope

Here at Nandina REM, we are fortunate to be headquartered in Singapore, a country that is rapidly emerging as a global leader in sustainability. The Singaporean government’s strong support for our mission has been instrumental in our progress. Singapore’s position as a regional aviation hub, coupled with its robust research and development ecosystem, has provided fertile ground for our innovative solutions to take root.

The growing momentum in Singapore gives me immense hope for the future. Imagine a world where boarding a plane is not just about reaching your destination but also about flying on a vessel that embodies a commitment to a sustainable future. This is the vision that drives us forward at Nandina REM, and we believe that with collaboration and innovation, we can make it a reality.

The road ahead is undoubtedly challenging, but the potential rewards are immeasurable. By giving retired aeroplanes a second life, we are not just decarbonising the skies but building a more sustainable future for generations to come.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

, ,

Type keyword(s) and press Enter