A Life Cycle Look at Making Oil from End-of-Life Vehicles 2006-01-0374
Each year approximately 12 million automobiles reach the end of their useful life and enter a complex infrastructure designed to recover usable parts and materials of value (primarily the ferrous and nonferrous metals). The remaining material, a mixture of glass, rubber, plastics, foam, and dirt, is referred to as shredder residue (SR) and is currently sent to landfills for disposal. However, a new Thermal Conversion Process (TCP) developed by Changing World Technologies may make it possible to convert this waste into a light hydrocarbon oil. TCP is a new technology under investigation by the Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP) and its partners. This process converts hydrocarbons and other organic materials into marketable oils and specialty chemicals for potential industrial and commercial use. Early research has demonstrated the ability to take SR and convert it into a light hydrocarbon oil, fuel gas, and carbon. While the process has proven to be technically feasible, it is also important to know what effects the process has on the environment. Therefore, a life cycle assessment was performed to better understand the environmental impact/benefits offered by this technology. This assessment was part of the VRP's long-term goal of developing a life cycle model for the entire end-of-life process. The model will then be used to determine tradeoffs between alternative technologies for treating and recycling SR and to identify preferred alternatives.