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Great leap forward for ARN through innovation

The Netherlands – ‘ARN processed 40000 tonnes of post shredder waste from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) this year compared to 25000 tonnes in 2013 and 12000 tonnes in 2012,’ said Arie de Jong, group ceo at automotive expertise centre ARN Recycling at the firm’s annual corporate meeting. ‘This great leap forward means that we are able to cater to the entire post shredder residue stream in the Netherlands,’ he added.

ARN has now claimed a 95% recycling rate, of which 86% is material recycling, De Jong declared. Its state-of-the-art post-shredder technology plant in the Dutch city of Tiel has a lot to do with that achievement. The ceo stressed that the company name was recently changed to signal the wider focus on modern-day vehicles, not just cars. ‘The boat market has seen explosive growth lately. We certainly wish to branch out and act on this opportunity.’

Nico Langerak, department manager applications and engineering at Tata Steel, pointed out that some 94% of all steel produces is recycled, ‘often serving the same purpose’. In 2013, over 1.5 million tonnes of steel was produced worldwide. ‘The recycling rate of cars has recently been topping the production numbers since fewer cars are being sold at the moment,’ Langerak added.

Also, Tata Steel has opened a new finishing line at its IJmuiden steelworks in the Netherlands to strengthen the supply of high-value steels to the automotive sector and other markets. The company invested EUR 12 million in the finishing line, which will process up to 400 000 tonnes of galvanised steel coil per year. As light weighting vehicles is on ongoing trend, the use of conventional metals like steel will see a drop. This might equate to a decrease of a third by 2030 compared to current levels.

Big threats

Nick van Kessel, ceo of car parts supplier and dismantling specialist Rhenoy Group, stated that reuse of products and notably car parts has seen a ‘steep rise’. Meanwhile, illegal competition is a ‘big threat’ for the automotive market. ‘Stolen parts are offered eagerly throughout Europe, which, in the age of the internet has resulted in a flourishing online community,’ he urged. And yet, one must carefully consider whether all parts should get a second life. Recycling and reuse of litium-ion car batteries, for example, remain controversial due to safety issues, pointed out ARN’s Kasper Zom.

The Tesla Roadster car battery equals about 6000 laptop batteries in terms of resources used to manufacture it, added Dr René Kleijn from Leiden University. ‘There is a significant growth of valuable metals used in car technology. Computer chips, for instance, contain over 60 different elements – this was just 12 back in the ’80s!’

A so-called ‘resources passport’ might be the answer when attempting to maximise recovery of the metals at end-of-life stage, Dr Kleijn suggested. Even so, he warned: ‘New high quality discovery of metals deposits are far less frequent, and you will have to dig much deeper into the Earth in the future. And of course exploring controversial ideas like deep sea mining or moon mining opens up a whole new chapter of geopolitics.’

True innovation

Interestingly, car racing helped boost innovation at the dawn of car technology, said Geert Vermeer, member of the board of the DAF Museum, where the event was held. He personally completed the London Sydney Marathon Rally with a DAF car and reminisced on a time where vehicles could only muster 22hp.

The DAF brand founder and ‘genius’ Hub van Doorn invented the continuously variable transmission (CVT) vehicle – a technology still preferred by 43 leading car manufacturers today. This model raised the bar to 50hp and later even 250hp, which saw the birth of one of the first Formula 1 cars. Vermeer noted: ‘Looking ahead, we must remember one thing; that innovation is only true innovation if the discovery still matters 50, no, 100 years down the road.’

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