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Controlled Closed Loop Recycling for Life-Cycle Optimised Industrial Production

Final Report Summary - CONCLORE (Controlled Closed Loop Recycling for Life-Cycle Optimised Industrial Production)

Waste and pollution arising from discarded vehicles can be a significant problem in Europe and there are EU directives in place to minimise the waste generated from these vehicles. The 'Controlled closed loop recycling for life-cycle optimised industrial production' (CONCLORE) project enables the recovery of plastic material from vehicles and combines it with an enterprise-spanning product lifecycle management concept. To allow for effective recycling CONCLORE offers identification of recyclable automotive parts as well as classification of material quality.

CONCLORE achieved sustainable products by substituting multi-component structures through singlecomponent thermoplastic sandwich-structures for the production of automotive polymer parts.
CONCLORE defined a new state of the art by establishing an advanced recycling model called the controlled closed loop recycling (CCLR) geared towards 100 % material recovery and remanufacturing of automotive polymer parts.

CONCLORE objectives

Polymer automotive parts today are usually multi-component structures (i.e. PES and PUR-foam), due to their low cost and advantageous physical properties. However, material recovery of multi-component polymers is very costly and energy intensive as they are composed of a number of mechanically and chemically bonded materials.

Moreover, multi-component structures are generally thermoset and as such are manufactured based on liquid resins. Thermoset binders pose an environmental and health hazard resulting from exposure to volatile organic compounds emitted both during production as well as in the application phase.

Summarising, current state of the art in ELV recycling is not sustainable, due to technical difficulties related to the sorting of polymers from fluff as well as the multi-component nature of polymer automotive parts.

In order to close the loop and achieve practical and cost-effective automotive part production out of material recovered from recycled ELVs, recovered material of continuous quality is necessary. Due to the physical and chemical properties of polymers the quality of the material can degrade over a long time period, such as the usage period of the average automotive. A car part will be exposed to a number of environmental conditions during its lifetime with potential affect to the material and consequently the quality of the material recovered through recycling.

Even though polymer material of degraded quality can still be recycled it no longer has the physical properties which are characteristic for virgin material. Consequently, continuous quality in material recovered from recycled parts can only be achieved through the removal of contaminants and processing that takes the degradation through external factors into account. Achieving continuous quality in material recovered from recycled polymer parts thus depends on accurate information on the actual properties of the recovered material. CONCLORE will derive this information gathered using radio frequency identification (RFID) integrated into automotive parts. This approach allows for a radical advancement of state of the art in recycling and continuous quality reprocessing based on the use of RFID in combination with advanced sensors and planning functionality to allow for automated identification, sorting, classification, and routing during dismantling. Embedded in an enterprise-spanning product lifecycle management concept this will enable enhanced sustainability of automotive parts. This motivation led to the definition of the following listed objectives.

Progress achieved
The European project CONCLORE developed sustainable 100 % recyclable car interior products for recovery at the end of the useful life of the vehicle, recycling it either for reuse within the automotive industry or in other applications. This goal was achieved through developing single-component thermoplastic sandwich-structures and utilising product embedded identification (PEID) CONCLORE enables the recovery of plastic material at. Combined with an enterprise-spanning product lifecycle management concept CONCLORE offers identification of recyclable automotive parts as well as classification of material quality.

The ELV (end of life vehicle) directive (EU/2000/53) introduced by the EU in 2000 addresses pollution arising from vehicles that have reached the end of their useful life. Its aim is to reduce more than 9 million tons of waste generated by over 12 million cars that become ELVs each year.

The directive specifies thresholds for the reuse, recycling and recovery of materials from ELVs. By 2006 the ratio of materials which should be reused, recycled or recovered aims for 85 % of the total vehicle weight and 95 % by 2015. The initial recycling ratio of 85 % can currently be fulfilled by most manufactures. Keeping up with the quota, however, will become more and more difficult, due to the increased application of polymers. A higher polymer ratio will become increasingly important as it helps save fuel by lowering the overall vehicle weight. This trend will lead from a current average of 13 % to a projected average of 15.5 % in 2010.

Conclusions

The European project CONCLORE developed sustainable 100 % recyclable car interior products for recovery at the end of the useful life of the vehicle, recycling it either for reuse within the automotive industry or in other applications. This goal was achieved through developing single-component thermoplastic sandwich-structures and utilising Product Embedded Identification (PEID) CONCLORE enables the recovery of plastic material. Combined with an enterprise-spanning Product Lifecycle Management concept CONCLORE offers identification of recyclable automotive parts as well as classification of material quality.

All objectives of the project were achieved, all milestones and deliverables were successfully and in timely manner completed.

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