New project sees recycled aluminium used in Jaguar Land Rovers
Jaguar Land Rover Automotive plc. (JLR), the largest UK vehicle manufacturer, has found a way to implement a circular supply chain for aluminium for car bodies, by recycling the metal from end-of-life vehicles to be used in new cars.
The £2-million REALITY project aims to cut waste and reduce carbon emissions by recycling aluminium for use in new cars, a process that uses up to 95 per cent less energy than producing aluminium from scratch.
The project follows the REALCAR (Recylced Aluminium Car) scheme, which was launched in 2008 and allowed over 75,000 tonnes of aluminium, created throughout the manufacturing process, to be reclaimed in 2016/17 alone.
The recycling system is a unique ‘closed-loop’ system where aluminium from a variety of sources, including end-of-life vehicles, can be graded and used again by JLR. Through the new system, the REALITY project will help to further develop the circular economy model, delivering both financial and environmental benefits.
The scheme is part of JLR’s wider ‘second life’ initiative, which also involves the ‘Waste to Wave’ project in which all polyurethane used in the creation of early studio car models is repurposed and turned into surfboards, helping JLR work towards achieving its zero waste goal.
Implementing the recycling scheme has required the application of cutting-edge chemistry processes, new infrastructure and investment of over £13 million. There are hopes it will drive a new culture in which waste material is recognised as a high-value commodity, given its lower production costs. Concerns over quality have been noted; the project has evaluated aluminium grades at a chemical and microstructure level in order to increase the tolerance to recycling.
The REALITY project will continue to develop and consider advanced sorting and separating technologies applied to automotive end-of-life waste streams, which will hopefully help drive innovation in other sectors, such as packaging and construction. Axion Recycling, a resource recovery specialist, has joined the project to develop these sorting technologies for recovering high-grade recycled aluminium.
Other project partners include Novelis, Norton Aluminium, Brunel University London, WMG University of Warwick, Innoval Technology and Innovate UK.
Simon Edmunds, Director of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, who awarded a grant of £1.3 million to the project in 2016, said: “Innovate UK is proud of our support for the REALCAR programme, and this exciting latest stage of the project, REALITY, is another excellent example of collaboration between large and small businesses in the supply chain, supporting them to scale up and become more productive. These projects have been a model in terms of professional delivery of complex research and development.”