January 1, 2010
Coverings Etc finds a way to make tiles from recycled aircraft aluminum.
Aviation people call them boneyards. They’re the final resting places for decommissioned aircraft. There are large boneyards in the Arizona and California deserts and smaller ones all over the United States. And last fall they became the source of a new surfacing material, Bio-Luminum.
The product, which made its debut at last year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair and was launched in November, began as a process of pure discovery. “Ofer Mizrahi, the owner of our company was involved with an organization that cleaned up abandoned military bases,” says Coverings Etc’s Kirt Mancuso. “The group would sell off valuable materials but was never able to sell off aircraft aluminum.”
The reason was primarily chemical: the different melting points of aircraft aluminum’s primary alloys—aluminum, zinc, and copper—made recycling it back to its original state difficult. But Mizrahi was determined to find a use for the material. “He worked with several factories, asking the question, ‘If we do it thin enough, what can we do with it?’” Mancuso says. “He kept playing with it, to eventually see what made sense for a product line.”
Eventually, Mizrahi and his team were able to melt the aluminum into blocks and then (like stone cutters) slice those into tiles. The process gave the reclaimed aluminum tiles a distinctive, industrial patina. “The carbon footprint of this material is about five percent that of first-generation aluminum,” Mancuso says. “And the supply seems limitless, since until now, when airplanes were retired, the carcasses went to boneyards, where they took up space and polluted the landscape.”
100 percent postconsumer recycled aluminum
Lightweight and durable, the tiles are 100 percent recyclable and made using clean-tech processes.
Walls, bathrooms, lobbies, and even facades
138 Spring St., 6th floor
New York, NY 10012