Aluminum Closed Loop, a virtuous cycle to reduce waste and emissions

Aluminum Closed Loop, a virtuous cycle to reduce waste and emissions

Audi manages the aluminum it uses for a number of components in a closed loop. The recycling strategy reduces waste and lowers CO2 emissions, with 150,000 metric tons saved in 2019 alone.

Audi has a long tradition of using aluminum, ever since the first Audi A8 with the Audi Space Frame, a pioneering achievement in lightweight construction, debuted in 1994. The brand continues to use this lightweight and rigid metal for various components as part of an innovative multi-material mix.

However, aluminum production is very energy intensive, which is why Audi manages the material in a recycling loop. This saves primary materials and helps boost the sustainability of each car produced. The press shops in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm already use recycled aluminum for parts of the model lines A3, A4, A5, A6, A7 and A8, and also for parts of the Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback. Other sites and model lines will follow in due course.

Reducing emissions

The efficient and frugal use of resources is just as important to us as the reduction of our CO2 emissions. The energy input for the reuse of secondary aluminum is up to 95 percent lower than for the production of primary aluminum”, says Marco Philippi, Head of Procurement Strategy at AUDI.

Audi introduced the Aluminum Closed Loop at the Neckarsulm site in 2017. The aluminum sheet offcuts that are produced in the press shop are sent straight back to the supplier. The supplier then recycles these into aluminum sheets of equal quality, which Audi reuses in production.

The closed loop

At Neckarsulm this process is now employed with two suppliers, thus increasing the amount of aluminum managed in the closed loop. This led to savings of roughly 150,000 metric tons of CO2 in 2019, two-thirds more than the year before.

The Ingolstadt plant also recently introduced the Aluminum Closed Loop, and the Hungarian site in Gyor plans to introduce it next year, with additional plants to follow.


The transition to electric

The switch to electric mobility increases the proportion of CO2 emissions that the supply chain accounts for. Here and in the upstream production processes, Audi will generate almost a quarter of its CO2 emissions by 2025, based on its forecast fleet average.

The brand with the four rings is therefore working with its suppliers to implement measures that will reduce its environmental impact right from this early phase of production. In 2018, Audi had already initiated a joint program with its suppliers specifically to identify measures for further CO2 reductions in the supply chain.

Efficient processes

Opportunities with the greatest potential lie primarily in closed material loops, the subsequent increase in the use of recycled and secondary materials, employing polymer materials, and the use of green electricity.

These measures are expected to be fully effective by 2025 and will lead to potential CO2 savings of 1.2 metric tons per vehicle on average.


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