Economic impact of aluminum-intensive vehicles on the U.S. automotive recycling infrastructure

  • Boon J
  • Isaacs J
  • Gupta S
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The use of aluminum alloys in automobile production is growing as automakers strive to lower vehicle fuel consumption and reduce emissions by substituting aluminum for steel. The current recycling infrastructure for end‐of‐life vehicles is mature, profitable, and well suited to steel‐intensive vehicles; increased use of cast and wrought aluminum, however, will present new challenges and opportunities to the disassembler and shredder, who now comprise the first stages of the vehicle recycling infrastructure. Using goal programming techniques, a model of the auto recycling infrastructure is used to assess the materials streams and process profitabilities for several different aluminum‐intensive vehicle (AIV) processing scenarios. The first case simulates the processing of an AIV in the current recycling infrastructure. Various changes to the initial case demonstrate the consequences to the disassembler and shredder profitabilities whenever the price of nonferrous metals changes; greater fractions of the vehicle are removed as parts; the parts removed by the disassembler have increased aluminum content; the quantity of polymer removed by the disassembler is increased; the disassembly costs increase; the disposal costs for shredder residue and hazardous materials increase; the shredder processing costs increase; and different AIV designs are considered. These profits are also compared to those achieved for a steel unibody vehicle to highlight the impact of introducing AIVs into the existing infrastructure. Results indicate that the existing infrastructure will be able to accommodate AIVs without economic detriment.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aluminum
  • Automobile
  • Disassembly
  • Goal programming
  • Recycling
  • Scrap

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  • Jane E. Boon

  • Jacqueline A. Isaacs

  • Surendra M. Gupta

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