In order to address current environmental targets to reduce the amount of waste produced from vehicles at the end of their useful lives, organisations and individuals are invited to join a newly formed network focused on design for dismantling, reuse and recycling of road vehicles (DRIVENet). Led by Oxford Brookes University in conjunction with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, the three-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded project is a collaboration between UK universities and the vehicle engineering industry, involving the Oxford University led Faraday Advance Partnership, Oxford University’s Begbroke Directorate and MIRA Ltd.
DRIVENet has been created with the aim of applying knowledge in materials science and processing technologies to the production of components that can be effectively dismantled at end of life, and to materials that can be recycled and reused. Current legislation aims to reduce the amount of waste produced from road vehicles at the end of their useful lives. Over the coming years, vehicle manufacturers will be required to significantly limit the use of hazardous substances and increase the quantity of recycled material used in the manufacture of their vehicles. They will also be required to take responsibility for their vehicles once they become waste and to ensure they are designed for easy dismantling in order to be recycled, reused or remanufactured.
Metallic vehicle components are already effectively recycled, but most plastic and composite components are shredded and sent to landfill, and their use is likely to increase from the present level (of about ten per cent of a vehicle’s weight) to meet the parallel environmental push in the automotive sector towards lightweight, fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles. To meet the legislative targets the technological and economic barriers of recycling and reuse of non-metallic components will need to be addressed.
Dr Rebecca Lingwood, aerospace and automotive programme manager at Oxford University’s Begbroke Science Park, said: ‘With current data showing that around 2 million vehicles are scrapped in the UK every year – with around 1.2 million of these vehicles going to vehicle dismantlers and the remaining 0.8 million going directly to scrap yards – the issue of how to deal with end of life vehicles cannot be ignored. Furthermore, because vehicle manufacturers will be required to bear the cost of taking back end of life vehicles from 2007, it really is in their interest to design vehicles with ease of dismantling in mind.’
DRIVENet will tackle these problems by examining the whole lifecycle of the car from raw materials, to design, assembly of components, manufacture, disassembly, recycling and reuse of components and materials, as well as examining business and social drivers that restrict the growth of a recycling infrastructure. Through discussion groups, workshops and events, network members drawn from industry and academia will identify and develop solutions to address the sustainable use of automotive materials.