Vehicle 2.0 VS Material 2.0 – Future directions on the vehicle life cycle

Final Conference S_LIFE
source: S_LIFE

Ismael Ertug, MEP and Coordinator of the TRAN committee welcomed the participants and highlighted the ultimate goal of striving towards real sustainability in Europe towards 50% more efficient road transport systems by 2030 and to overcome upstackles such as the energy crisis. 

ELV treatment could help to solve These challenges. The ELV directive aims to encourage overall effective reduction of waste towards a rate of 5% in 2015. Mr. Ertug underlined that most member states are on track due to realization. However, inconsistencies between ELV and other directives (such as for general waste) have to be clarified (f.ex. battery recycling to be included in the ELV directive).

Remanufacturing for the Automotive Aftermarket

Raw material prices are rising and CO2 Reduction has become a major task/ target for the Automotive Industry; as a consequence new products are continuously downsized in order to safe weight, energy and materials. A Result of this downsizing in the automotive industry is, that material and production steps are becoming highly sophisticated and the automotive parts are becoming more and more complicated and even smaller. In addition consequently more critical materials are used in automotive production. “Today we use more elements than ever in our products.” says Peter Bartel.

As a further challenge for the automotive industry he stated the aging vehicle fleet / portfolio which require(s) the availability of parts a long time after the end of the vehicle type production. For Manufacturers it is difficult is to keep this small scale production efficient.

 “Remanufacturing offers more flexibility and is often the only way to provide replacement parts for older vehicles, keeping them on the road.", according to Peter Bartel Chairman of Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (apra), Germany,

Furthermore it is a good way to safeguard the environment and to contribute to environmental and resource protection. The savings from the production of a remanufactured part compared to a new part are as follows: 88% less material, 53% less CO2, 56% less energy.

Compared to new units remanufactured parts are not only more environmental friendly but economically; in addition remanufactured parts are given the same warranty as new parts and providing at least an equivalent function. Remanufacturing also diverts material from landfill and creates a market for skilled Employment.

“An importan roll in improving the efficiency of remanufacturing could play the product design.” commented Peter Bartel.

Main issues with regard to Design for Remanufacturing are complexity, fastening methods, means of assembly and disassembly as welI as increased part fragility. New design rules could improve the efficiency of remanufacturing by Reducing disassembly and reassembly times and thereby also reducing inspection/evaluation time and costs or by Building mechanisms into the product or component to ensure the return of cores.

Material recycling chain

Manuel Burnand, as Chairman of the European shredder group (EFR) is also active in FEDEREC (French Federation of Recycling Enterprises) and the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR). He presented to the assembly an overview of the End of Life Vehicle recycling chain, compared the various situations in Europe and gave an insight as to the arising challenges and technologies for this sector.

During its recycling process, an ELV of about 1 ton loses around 300 Kg from dismantling. (parts that go for reuse or remanufacturing along with liquids, tires etc…). Once the remaining 700Kg have gone through the shredders, they are separated for their recycling. It is assumed that vehicles contain on average 75% of metal which is easiest to valorise. The other materials which would not have been dismantled need to go through post shredding treatment plants in order to be recovered (15 to20%) The remainder called the light fraction (or SLF) requires a more elaborated process.

Situations in Europe vary quite a lot: The Netherlands develop large capacities of SLF treatment, Germany allows for wider diversity of SLF to be incinerated with household waste and also allows filling up former mines as a recycling method. In France regulation is very strict with mandatory targets for each plant, whereas in the UK and Belgium, tax incentives are used to improve shredding residue recovery.

Nonetheless improvements are sensible although they are sometimes faced with bigger challenges. Plastic Sorting from the various fractions is now effective but with limited results. Glass recovery processes from the mineral fraction present an alternative to glass dismantling but are still more expensive than disposal. Gasification solutions emerge but their economic balance is still to be demonstrated. Processes for fibres or foams recycling are emerging.

And more techniques are being developed to solve some long-haul problems such as sorting technologies for black plastics, chemical compatibilisers which allow mixing certain polymers in secondary products without risking to compromise their quality, chemical tracers which allows to an easier sorting of polymers despite their colour, or even introduction of new materials partly made of shredding residues which could be used in the construction industry.

Recycling of advanced rechargeable batteries

Recycling Advanced Rechargeable Batteries - Challenges & Opportunities Jean Pol Wiaux, Director General at RECHARGE association in France.

The European Association of Advanced Rechargeable Batteries RECHARGE, represents the interests of the European Rechargeable battery value chain. This includes producers of batteries, consumers of batteries, raw material suppliers and recyclers of batteries. Mr Wiaux introduced the activities of his organisation and the impact of battery developments on the recycling of batteries. The focus of Recharge is mainly on market analysis and end-of-life aspects, safety issues, transport regulations, and the EU legislative and regulatory framework.

Mr Wiaux outlined the market expansion over the past decade, mainly involving Lithion Ion based batteries. As an example he explained the impact of E-Bikes to the European market – about 1.1 million e-bikes are sold in 2012. The batteries were either imported within the e-bike, as sole battery packs, or imported as individual cells.

The market for consumer and industrial applications is steeply growing, and new applications are arising such as energy storage systems and products such as drones. Innovation in battery manufacturing is always focused to reduce costs per kWh, to increase WH per kilogramme, and improving the performance of cell technology.

From the pure automotive perspective a growth is foreseen valued USD1.5 billion (2013) to USD6 billion in 2025. From recycling perspective currently 5000 tonnes of ELV Li-Ion batteries are collected and recycled in 2013, with an estimated growth towards 100.000 in 2025. Processing cost per tonne is expected to reduce by 50%, by USD2000 p/tonne in 2013 and USD 1000 in 2025.

Key challenges on spent EV batteries are a reduced concentration of active materials, variable compositions, commercial value of recovered materials, costs of battery disassembly; economic impact of recycling costs; delayed return rates; re-use & second use of batteries. The key message of Mr Wiaux was that economics at disassembly level need to be optimised. The optimization of recycling operations will be achieved if a good cooperation exists between the battery producer, the waste battery supplier and the recycler.

 Resource & Carbon efficiency

Resource and Carbon Efficiency from a Life Cycle Perspective Dr. Michael Faltenbacher, PE International, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany

Sustainability is on the CEO’s Agenda! This was shown in a study from 2013. (N Global Compact Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability). Automotive manufacturers as well as Tier 1 suppliers established and follow consequently their sustainability agenda. Dr. Michael Faltenbacher pointed out main study results such as:

• 62 % of interviewed CEOs expect sustainability to transform their industry in the next 5 years. • 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities • 80% of CEOs view sustainability as a route to competitive advantage in their industry.

Top 3 motivations for CEOs to invest in sustainability therefore are • Brand, trust and reputation, • Grow revenue, • Customer demand.

Life Cycle Assessments are key to quantify the resource and carbon efficiency of manufacturing processes, products and product portfolios. Dr. Faltenbacher then demonstrated key results of several LCA case studies carried out by PE International:

Studies on resource and carbon efficiency potentials of E-Mobility showed that material composition shows increase in precious metals, electronic parts and copper. Beneficiation and production of these materials has a significant influence on the life cycle results. Due to the use phase of electric cars LCA analysis revealed a high relevance of source of electricity (EU grid mix: 485 g CO2e/ kWh compared to wind power: 12 g CO2e/ kWh).

LCA Case studies on resource and carbon efficiency through recycling and lightweight design showed that lightweight materials do not necessary lead to a better environmental performance. While global warming Potential is driven by the use phase, other environmental impacts are mainly driven by the production phase.

During InCar plus, a research project run inside ThyssenKrupp and the different sub brands, LCAs of lightweight developed solutions have been calculated in order to quantify the environmental performance for the entire life cycle. The developed solutions cover body- , chassis and engine components and strive to lower CO2-emissions over the entire life cycle. It could be shown that a switch from steel based body structure to aluminium based body structure leads to 15% reduction or – 1.7 t CO2 emissions over life cycle. Higher efforts during production “pay back” over life time. The break even is reached after ~120 Tkm. Recycling contributes significantly to resource and carbon efficiency. This is in particular relevant in case of lightweight materials; eg. the carbon intensity of material production (mass of 1 kg) is much lower for steel (~ 2 kg CO2e) than for primary aluminium cast (~10 kg CO2e).

In conclusion, Dr. Faltenbacher pointed out that intelligently applied lightweight design, recycling and alternative propulsion concepts are crucial for an enhanced resource and carbon efficiency.

 Separation of materials and components

Knut Sander, Head of resource and waste management policy, ÖKOPOL GmbH, Hamburg, Germany

Mr. Sander emphasized again the tendency that increasing amounts of strategic elements observed in vehicles. Hence, shredding of ELV is not a treatment option which is optimised to reclaim low concentrated strategic elements.

The objective of ORKAM project was to determine the efforts of dismantling the most relevant electric and electronic components with a high content of strategic elements. Studies were undertaken to evaluate the dismantling time of selected priority components such as for Motor/ magnetic applications, screens and control devices and its economic evaluation.

By means of ORKAM Mr. Sander concluded that ELV will become a more and more important source for strategic elements. Prerequisites for being able to use this source and to recycle the strategic elements are an improved data basis. For example, a systematic information flow from automotive industry to dismantling facilities should be established. This enables an informed decision of dismantling company about dismantling activities.

The establishment of recycling capacities is needed to speed up the development and for establishing of recycling facilities for rare earths and critical metals. Public authorities should further support research on recycling approaches and support that investments into large-scale plant are secured . Collection and recycling logistics • Establishment or improvement of collection and logistics systems between dismantling and WEEE treatment companies • Integration into existing collection systems (repair workshop waste disposal systems, WEEE collection system)

The consideration of legal requirements is essential • to clarify interface between ELV regulations and WEEE regulations, • to consider legal dismantling requirements for those components which show a negative cost/revenue balance of the separation, but which have a high environmental or long term strategic relevance, • to assign additional costs in line with the producer responsibility principle.

‘We need flexible instruments to continuously adapt ELV recycling systems at an early stage to changing vehicle design and structure, to new materials as well as to the changing content of critical metals. This is the main challenge’, said Mr. Sander.


Discussions of the day: It is established now, that from an ecological point of view, we can no longer afford to extract materials, manufacture products and simply dispose of them when they get to their end of life. Our consumer goods represent the greatest potential source of material in the EU.

But several challenges still lay ahead of us. Although many things have already been done and achieved (policies and regulations, improvements provided by the industry or development of product recycling…) recycling has its own limits and it is not necessarily the ultimate solution. There will still be a need to master our consumption of primary resources.

Car material composition will not drastically change in the coming years. It will be an evolution rather than a revolution. No material availability issue is foreseen yet. The industry in the EU has the time and the capacity to react and anticipate this. There are interlinks between stages of the value chain; and between regulations. Therefore we need to work at all levels.

Changes and evolutions will always be market driven. There is a need for the industry to sustain itself and therefore a need to find the right balance between material recovery and its financial aspects: What has to go to remanufacturing? What is worth being sorted before shredding? What must be sorted after shredding?

There are still many things to be done and improved – regarding recycling, uses of recycled materials, use of primary resources, access to key elements… - Though major objectives have been achieved already.

The main impression that remains from our discussions today, is that there are challenges but we have good reasons to be optimistic on our ability to face and handle them.

S_LIFE From the very beginning, it has been clear for all S_LIFE partners that it was not a stand-alone project. Management of resources and waste in automotive is a major topic for each of our organisations. It could have easily turned into another theoretical paperwork, but our goal has always been to get concrete actions out of this project.

To reach this goal, we took two main decisions, namely to get the support and assistance of an advisory board and to integrate a bottom up approach collecting information from the field. The purpose was to ensure that our actions always fit with the stakeholders’ needs.

We finally came up with a Joint Action Plan of 15 actions. It is not exhaustive, but it presents the points of consensus between the partner regions of the S_LIFE project. Of course, priorities differ from one region to another.

One achievement of this project is the collaboration we managed to generate between regions and between actors, which was one of the objectives of Region of Knowledge Projects. As we said, many things have already been done but to move a step forward there is a need for collaboration: Between actors of all stages of the value chain; among the triple helix: industry, research and authorities; and between industrial sectors.

The collaborations initiated by S_LIFE will not stop here and for us S_LIFE is only a starting point. As clusters we will continue to build projects that will allow turning those 15 actions into concrete activities. We will continue to accompany and support you in handling those challenges.

The Final Conference of the S_LIFE project took place on 6th November 2014. It was hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union in Brussels. More than 60 experts from industry, authorities and scientific institutes as well as from press participated to receive current information about the most important of S_LIFE achievements ant to discuss future aspects of material efficiency along the automotive value chain.

The Final Conference was kindly supported by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU.



Bayern Innovativ GmbH
Cluster Automotive / New Materials

Tanja Flügel
Project manager
+49(0) 911 20671 211

FP7 - seventh framework programme
European Union
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7 under grant agreement n 285811.