Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) had recently announced the development of the next phase of its aluminium closed loop strategy with an innovative recycling initiative to transform current vehicles into the cars of tomorrow. The project, called REALITY aims to recover aluminium from existing Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, and reform it into new high-grade aluminium to create new vehicles.
JLR is currently testing this process of recycling aluminium on early, pre-production Jaguar I-PACE prototypes that have had their batteries safely removed. The scrap from these vehicles is sorted into various materials using high-tech sensors, and once separated, the aluminium scrap is melted and reformed. When operating at full capacity, project REALITY is expected to reduce the CO2 impact of production, while reducing the amount of virgin aluminium required to produce vehicles.
In line with the REALITY project of JLR, it is noticeable that aluminium is being supplemented by steel and metals in the production of various automotive components. While components such as heat exchangers, wheels, engine heads and blocks were the main components to adopt aluminium as the material of choice, it is now moving on to other parts like bonnet, doors and Body-in-White (BIW). The main benefits of aluminium when compared to traditionally-used materials are weight reduction, and enhanced component performance.
THE JLR REALITY PROJECT
The REALITY project is helping JLR extend its closed-loop aluminium economy. The company said that between September, 2013 and January, 2019, about 300,000 tonnes of closed-loop scrap have been processed back into the brand’s lightweight aluminium intensive architecture, across all vehicle lines including XE. In 2014, Jaguar XE was the first vehicle in the world to use aluminium alloy grade RC5754 for its body panels, which contains up to 75 % recycled aluminium.
JLR said that as part of an ACES (Autonomy, Connectivity, Electrification and Shared Mobility) future, there will be an increased opportunity for recycling through the REALITY project. This can be achieved since JLR will be able to plan for the retirement of large shared fleets, it added. It is said to enable the company to engineer closed-loop recycling into tight production schedules, as vehicles can be recovered, de-polluted and shredded at scale.
With regards to testing of this recycled aluminium, the same is being carried out Brunel University scientists. They have conducted strength tests and graded the purity of the recycled aluminium to ensure it meets the required mechanical standards to be used in body panels right across the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges.
FUTURE OF ALUMINIUM UTILISATION
We are seeing high-end cars using aluminium as the main material for construction of chassis, which not only helps in reducing weight, but also provides improved stiffness and torsional rigidity. This will slowly trickle into the mainstream models in the future, which are currently featuring body parts like bonnets and boot lids made of the material. In terms of wheels, there has been a growing trend of aluminium being used as the material of choice for its above mentioned properties.
Electric vehicles (EV) are also featuring battery boxes being made of aluminium for their inherent property of being lightweight. For EVs, body weight reduction directly relates to increased range, which is the main requirement. In addition, the electromagnetic interference from aluminium is low, which enables manufacturers to increase the content of electronics without any issues.
In terms of vehicles with internal combustion engines, downsizing is the way to keep emissions low, with higher fuel economy. The use of aluminium to make engine components such as the head and block have been in use for some time, and this trend further helps in making engines more compact and modular, while delivering higher outputs. Aluminium pistons are also ensuing the weight of engines are kept low, while maintaining high levels of performance.
In conclusion, it can be noted that the use of aluminium in components that need to ensure durability and performance is of utmost importance. This is in addition to added benefit that aluminium can be recycled much more efficiently than other materials, which is being demonstrated by JLR in its project REALITY. The reuse of material from scrapped vehicles in the construction of new ones definitely helps in reducing the overall carbon footprint of manufacturers and ensuring sustainable manufacturing.
TEXT: Naveen Arul