In order to increase the return rate of materials when recycling end-of-life cars, a new joint project is researching innovative dismantling and intelligent sorting processes for aluminium, steel, glass, copper and plastics.

In order to increase the return rate of materials when recycling end-of-life cars, a new joint project is researching innovative dismantling and intelligent sorting processes for aluminium, steel, glass, copper and plastics.
Researchers from the TU Bergakademie Freiberg are also participating in the project led by the BMW Group, which is doing basic work for the circular economy in automotive construction. The aim of the alliance is to increase the proportion of reused materials in vehicle production to 50 percent.

Currently, industrial recycling processes are associated with losses in material purity, which could only be compensated for by a very high manual labour input. As a result, raw materials from end-of-life vehicles do not find their way back there. "To change this, in addition to the introduction of a customised automated dismantling process, the sorting and recognition of the shredded materials in the material mix must be improved," says Prof. Urs Peuker. "This is a prerequisite for the necessary quality and purity of the different recyclable materials and thus also for efficient reuse in automotive construction," adds the head of the Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering and Processing Technology at TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

The Freiberg researchers are investigating the process of sorting and recognising the different materials from dismantled and shredded car components. To do this, the team is using special sensor technology developed at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, which is being tested and evaluated at TU Bergakademie Freiberg in an industrial-scale sorting facility for the particles, which are around 1 to 10 centimetres in size.

Obtaining purer recyclable materials for recycling
By combining sensor technology with artificial intelligence-based valuable material recognition and other spectroscopic methods (for example laser-induced plasma spectroscopy), the Freiberg researchers are identifying different steel and aluminium alloys in particular. "Through experiments and analyses, we evaluate the chemical, thermodynamic and metallurgical processing of end-of-life vehicle sheet metal as a function of different treatment and sorting processes," explains Prof. Olena Volkova from the Institute of Iron and Steel Technology. The results create the prerequisites for testing the use of these scraps for the industrial production of flat steel grades typical for the automotive industry.

In addition, the team is also focusing on the recyclable glass from removed car glazing. "The fact that these are not currently recycled is mainly due to the high requirements for the safety-relevant panes and the melting process, which is sensitive to impurities," says Jun.-Prof. Sindy Fuhrmann. At the Institute for Glass and Glass Technology, the sorting and dismantling products are evaluated and melting experiments are carried out to sound out the process conditions and recycling limits.

Efficient cycles for vehicle production
In this way, a significantly higher grade purity of the secondary raw materials obtained can be achieved. For all materials, this not only increases the amount of secondary raw materials suitable for the production of new cars, but at the same time significantly reduces the processing effort required to turn scrap into reusable raw materials.

The aim of the Car2Car alliance is to provide well-founded recommendations for innovative framework conditions so that efficient circular economy promises higher added value in the future than conventional, linear process chains. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is funding the project with a total of 6.4 million euros as part of the funding guideline "New Vehicle and System Technologies".

Michael Kellner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection explains: "The successful transformation of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers is central to Germany as a business location. A stronger circular economy that conserves and recycles resources is an important step towards climate neutrality and at the same time secures supply chains. Innovation projects in this area are therefore of great importance. Funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology helps to reduce the automotive industry's dependence on raw material imports and to secure the supply of raw materials to the economy in the long term in order to strengthen industrial value creation."

About the Car2Car research project
As part of the funded project, the BMW Group is making 500 end-of-life vehicles available for the investigation of upgrading potential. The aim is to evaluate the extent to which limiting material flows to vehicles influences the quality and purity of secondary raw materials. Another component of the funding project is a comprehensive evaluation of both the ecological and economic effects of closed-loop recycling of the materials under investigation.

The Car2Car funding project is made up of the following collaborative partners:

BMW AG; TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Helmholtz Institute HZDR-HIF, Technical University of Munich, Scholz Recycling GmbH, STEINERT UniSort GmbH, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG, Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH, Aurubis AG, Novelis Deutschland GmbH, OETINGER Aluminium GmbH, Pilkington Automotive.

Zur Pressemitteilung der BMW Group

Fragen beantwortet / Contact: Prof. Urs Peuker