About RecAL Project

RecAL is a Horizon Europe project aiming to upgrade Europe’s handling of its aluminium supply and metals market place. Via RecAL’s innovative packet of solutions, we can reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production by enabling the use of secondary resources – and improve the continent’s self-sufficiency along the way.

With its numerous applications in a variety of sectors – from transportation to packaging – Aluminium is an indispensable cornerstone of European manufacturing. Additionally, its inherent lightweighting potential makes the metal key to meeting the demands of the European Green Deal in the transportation and construction industries. Light means efficient.

Second-life aluminium materials, such as scrap from construction, aviation, automotive, or even used beverage cans, have largely been put to use in the production of combustion engines.

Thus, limitations in the recycling potential of aluminium hasn’t been much of an issue thanks to this universal recycling ‘sink’ in the automotive industry  A transition to electrified engines however, could see this quickly shift.

Only by boosting potential usage of second-life aluminium can this gap be filled and expectations met.

Global Sources of Aluminium Anticipated in 2030

(Source: Sciencedirect.com)

  • Primary Aluminium 66.38% 66.38%
  • Recycled Aluminium 33.62% 33.62%
!
RecAL‘s innovations
are going to help
close this gap

Objectives

Alloy Design

Aluminium alloy designs must increase their impurity tolerance at level or superior performance, thus RecAL will further widen the composition range to create a hybrid 6xxx-alloy and improve recycling capabilities for the metal. Rapid  prototyping in the laboratory makes it possible to produce a large number of materials with different levels of Fe, Si, Cu, Cr, Ni, ultimately harmonizing a novel high-strength alloy able to tolerate higher levels of impurity – and thus enable an increase in aluminium scrap usage.

Sorting & Dismantling

The process of sorting and dismantling scrap materials must exploit the benefits of digitization and robotic assistance to create waste streams with improved levels of purity. RecAL will develop new robotics-powered methods, using spectroscopy and machine learning computer vision techniques, that can better sort scraps by alloy / material.

Paradigm Shift

Production chains must be adapted to exploit the potential of secondary resources. By fostering necessary new data architectures and transparent value chains, RecAL aims to facilitate paradigm shifts along the aluminium processing value chain. As a result, matching supply to demand of feedstock at the correct quality level will be enabled. The new paradigm will also mean overall process can be assessed as for energy efficiency and techno-economic benefits.

Harmonising Communication

In order to correctly connect supplies of second-life aluminium to manufacturers able to make use of said materials, communication must be harmonised between all sectors of industry. This will require the development and validation of a digital circularity platform for the entire aluminium recycling value chain both within and between individual company production lines: the RecAL Hub.

Circular Economy Principles

One of the driving forces behind RecAL is the advancement of a complementary set of up- and recycling technologies inkeeping with circular economy principles.

RecAL’s innovations across the aluminium value chain will achieve a variety of goals, such as improvements to the capture, separation, and reuse of aluminium recyclates plus the ongoing development of more sustainable designs.

Ultimately, RecAL’s new technologies will be showcased via three linked use-case demonstrations. This action will aim to resemble and quantify the impact on future closed value chains from EoL-procurement to remanufacturing.

Impacts

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Energy required to use recycled aluminium vs. primary production

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Expected Final Recovery Rate for Aluminium Scraps

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Increase in secondary aluminium alloys used in European manufacturing

By fully enabling circular economy across the supply chain for all sectors using aluminium in Europe, RecAL will be able to improve the EU’s economic competitiveness, not to mention foster resilience & self-reliance with regards to this precious resource. By facilitating the increased usage of secondary resource materials, the RecAL Hub and its enabling CATs will complete the circle and fill in several efficiency gaps for European industry. The project’s newly developed aluminium alloys will mark a new beginning for the metal. As a side-effect, the RecAL Hub will also contribute to FAIR data exchange within the EU (not solely within industry). Cost reductions are ultimately to be expected across the aluminium value chain too, with the recycling industry able to expect savings of at least €170m per year, or ~50x the cost of the RecAL pilot installation.

Perhaps most importantly of all however, a reduction in CO2 emissions from primary material production and efficiency gains will contribute to European climate goals.

 

Some expect impacts…
  • Increase of up to 50% in secondary aluminium alloys utilised in European Al manufacturing.
  • Enhanced circularity of Al-based products via newly robust designs.
  • Reductions of up to 40% in the time taken to perform relevant LCA.
  • Significant increase in recovery and upcycling of salt slag vital to removal of impurities from Al materials.
  • A working (and stable) iteration of the RecAL HUB.
  • AI-assisted robotic sorting of Al scrap, able to deliver hugely improved levels of Al purity.