Toward Material Efficient Vehicles: Ecodesign Recommendations Based on Metal Sustainability Assessments
Abstract Current End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) recycling processes are mainly based on mechanical separation techniques. These methods are designed to recycle those metals with the highest contribution in the vehicle weight such as steel, aluminum, and copper. However, a conventional vehicle uses around 50 different types of metals, some of them considered critical by the European Commission. The lack of specific recycling processes makes that these metals become downcycled in steel or aluminum or, in the worst case, end in landfills. With the aim to define several ecodesign recommendations from a raw material point of view, it is proposed to apply a thermodynamic methodology based on exergy analysis. This methodology uses an indicator called thermodynamic rarity to assess metal sustainability. It takes into account the quality of mineral commodities used in a vehicle as a function of their relative abundance in Nature and the energy intensity required to extract and process them.