Jaguar Land Rover gives aluminium a second life with circular economy initiative

Posted on 8 Apr 2019 by Maddy White

Jaguar Land Rover is developing the next phase of its innovative aluminium recycling initiative which reuses the aluminium in its current vehicles to make the cars of tomorrow.

JLR aluminium initiative - image courtesy of JLR
The project aims to recover aluminium from existing Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles – image courtesy of JLR.

The project, which is co-funded by Innovate UK, aims to recover aluminium from existing JLR vehicles and reform it into a new high-grade aluminium to create new cars.

The process is currently being tested on early, pre-production Jaguar I-PACE prototypes which have had their batteries removed. These batteries are processed, while the remaining materials from the vehicles are sorted. Once the aluminium is separated, it is melted and reformed.

When operating at full capacity, the REALITY project is expected to reduce the CO2 impact of production while reducing the amount of virgin aluminium required to produce vehicles.

Over the past five years, around 300,000 tonnes of closed-loop scrap have been processed back into the automotive manufacturer’s lightweight aluminium car structures, across all vehicle lines.

In 2014, the Jaguar XE model was the first vehicle in the world to use aluminium alloy grade RC5754 for its body panels, which contains up to 75% recycled aluminium. Half of its body structure is made of aluminium alloy grades that contain a significant amount of recycled aluminium content.

The importance of a circular economy strategy? 

The circular economy concept aims to minimise waste and optimise resources. It means that when a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible, this can enable businesses to be more economically competitively and also environmentally friendly.

Some recent examples:

JLR currently uses 180,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, this a small fraction of the 80 million tonnes produced globally each year. It is already one of the most widely recycled materials with 75% of all aluminium ever produced still in circulation.

“More than one million cars are crushed every year in the UK and this pioneering project affords us a real opportunity to give some of them a second life. Aluminium is a valuable material and a key component in our manufacturing process and as such we’re committed to ensuring our use of it is as responsible as possible,” said Gaëlle Guillaume, lead project manager, REALITY at Jaguar Land Rover.

The recycled aluminium is being tested by Brunel University scientists, who have conducted strength tests and graded its purity to ensure it meets the required mechanical standards to be used in body panels across all ranges.

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