A new £2m collaborative project led by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will focus on increasing the recycled aluminium content in new vehicles.
REcycled ALuminium through Innovative TechnologY (Reality) is part-funded by InnovateUK. It involves Manchester-based resource recovery specialist Axion, working with other partners, who will focus on techniques for sorting and separating specialist alloys from aluminium derived from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs).
The three-year project is an extension of the REcycled ALuminium CAR (Realcar) project, initially launched by JLR in 2008 to create a closed-loop process for post-industrial aluminium scrap from its vehicle manufacturing. This original project and subsequent work with suppliers enabled JLR to reclaim more than 75,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap and reuse it in the aluminium production process in 2016-17.
Richard McKinlay, Axion’s head of circular economy, said: “The Reality project will refine the process of turning aluminium from ELVs into new vehicles. It will continue to deliver significant sustainability benefits, with aluminium recycling requiring up to 95% less energy than primary aluminium production.”
Axion’s research will focus on proving the technical and economic viability of separation techniques for many non-ferrous metals, such as zinc, copper and brass, from the scrap aluminium, and for separating the aluminium alloys from each other.
McKinlay explained: “These extracted aluminium alloys will also be extensively tested to assess their suitability for reuse in new vehicles. If we can extract the right alloys and reuse them in the right components, then we will have created a closed-loop value chain for automotive aluminium.”
The project will consider advanced sorting technologies and evaluate next-generation aluminium alloys for greater recyclability. The team will work on developing the sorting technologies for recovery of high-grade recycled aluminium.
Axion will evaluate and optimise sensor-based sorting technologies alongside collaboration with Novelis, Norton Aluminium, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Brunel University and Innoval Technology.
McKinlay added: “This ground-breaking research will contribute towards the development of the circular economy for the automotive sector and enhanced environmental performance. Innovations in the sorting and separating technologies applied to automotive end-of-life waste streams will also help other sectors, including packaging and construction.”