British car maker Jaguar Land Rover claims the “upcycling” of aluminium could help it reduce the carbon footprint of its alloy manufacturing process by more than a quarter. The new Reality aluminium project could see aluminium waste from drinks cans, bottle tops and old cars transformed into new vehicles.

Engineers working on the scheme found they were able to use the recycled aluminium parts and mix the metal with a lower amount of primary aluminium to form a new and tested prototype alloy. This alloy, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) claims, is “comparable” with the quality and grade of material currently used in vehicle production.

Moreover, JLR says its analysis of the recycling and manufacturing process shows the new technique could reduce alloy production CO2 emissions by up to 26 percent compared with the current automotive alloy. That, the firm says, will help “further close the loop” on its manufacturing and use of raw materials.

JLR says aluminium, which is one of the most widely recycled materials in the world, can be melted down and reformed repeatedly without damaging its integrity. The substance is also commonly seen, appearing in goods such as drinks cans, aerosols and bottle tops. The element is so commonly recycled that almost 75 percent of all aluminium produced in the USA and EU is still in use.

However, recycled aluminium is not often seen in the automotive sector. With the new system, though, JLR hopes to set that record straight. Using the recycled aluminium as part of a “blend”, the company hopes to reduce the need for virgin aluminium in car manufacturing. And by using recycled car parts in the process, the company hopes to reduce the environmental impact of its cars’ bodywork and components.

Jaguar Reality aluminium recycling

Some £2 million has been pumped into the project, on which JLR is working with Innovate UK and Brunel University. The plan is to use knowledge gained through the research to help JLR decarbonise – a mission that has already seen the company reduce its global operating CO2 emissions per vehicle by more than half since 2007.

Jaguar Reality aluminium recycling

“This project has allowed us, for the first time, to recover premium automotive-grade aluminium from scrapped vehicles and re-use its unique properties,” said Gaëlle Guillaume, lead project manager for Reality at Jaguar Land Rover. “The potential of this on the production process is a reduction in CO2 impact as well as helping us re-use even more aluminium.

“As we move into an autonomous, connected and electrified future, with the potential of shared fleets being decommissioned en masse, it could allow Jaguar Land Rover to engineer this closed loop recycling alloy into tight production schedules to further improve efficiency and environmental benefits.”

Gallery: Jaguar's Reality recycling scheme