The role of automobiles for the future of aluminium recycling

The role of automobiles for the future of aluminium recycling
Roja Modaresi
Daniel B. Müller
Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 46, Issue 16, Pages 8587-8594
To reach required product qualities with lowest costs, aluminum postconsumer scrap is currently recycled using strategies of downgrading and dilution, due to difficulties in refining. These strategies depend on a continuous and fast growth of the bottom reservoir of the aluminum downgrading cascade, which is formed by secondary castings, mainly used in automotive applications. A dynamic material flow model for the global vehicle system was developed to assess the likelihood, timing, and extent of a potential scrap surplus. The results demonstrate that a continuation of the above-mentioned strategies will lead to a nonrecyclable scrap surplus by around 2018 ± 5 if no additional measures are taken. The surplus could grow to reach a level of 0.4-2 kg/cap/yr in 2050, corresponding to a loss of energy saving potential of 43-240 TWh/yr electricity. Various intervention options for avoiding scrap surplus are discussed. Effective strategies need to include an immediate and rapid penetration of dramatically improved scrap sorting technologies for end-of-life vehicles and other aluminum applications.
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