licensing agreement will reduce auto shredder waste in Europe
Polyurethane foam from reclaimed automobiles is cleaned at a
demonstration auto-shredder facility built by Argonne to prepare
the foam for recycling. (Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne National Laboratory and Salyp Recycling Center of Belgium
have signed a license agreement for a new process for recovering
previously unrecoverable material from scrapped vehicles.
The material, known as auto shredder residue, or ASR, includes
a mixture of plastics, fabric, foam, dirt and a variety of other
materials. It is generated when the vehicles are shredded to recover
the more valuable metal from the scrap.
The process is of particular importance in Europe, where the waste
from ELVs – the acronym stands for "end-of-life vehicles" – must
be reduced by 40 percent by the year 2005 under European Union
"And there is no technology available yet to recycle ASR,
except for the technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory," said
Ivan Vanherpe, project manager of Salyp Recycling. "The Argonne
technology avoids the scenario of landfilling or burning of ASR."
Vanherpe estimates that each junked vehicle contains about 250
kilograms of auto shredder residue – about 550 pounds. That
makes for an annual total in Europe of 3 billion kilograms of material
that is currently sent to incinerators or landfills.
With the Argonne-developed technology, the auto shredder residue
is separated into three different streams, says scientist Bassam
Jody, one of the Argonne engineers who developed the process. Plastic-rich
streams, iron oxides, and polyurethane foam can each separately
be recycled to other uses.
Tests show that the resulting polyurethane foam meets performance
criteria for new-material carpet padding and for reuse in automotive
applications, Vanherpe said. The process is fully continuous, minimizing
materials handling and labor costs.
Design of a full-scale demonstration plant is underway in Belgium,
and Argonne will participate with Salyp in the demonstration to
show the technical and economic impacts of the process.
The Salyp ELV Center will become operational in 2000, and is expected
to prove that Argonne's recycling technology can be adapted
to the European ELV directives without taxpayer support, Vanherpe
"To date, many people have just talked about developing a 'recyclable'
automobile. This Argonne technology represents the first practical
step forward in recovering automobile polyurethane foam rather
than throwing it into a landfill," says Paul Betten, the licensing
executive for this technology. "Further, Argonne has developed
other separations technology that will aid in recovering other
high value plastics from the automobile waste stream that will
make recycling an even more profitable business."
"In Europe" he added, "the environmental concerns and recovery
economics are more pronounced than in the U.S., due to a scarcity
of land and environmental legislation, and Salyp Recycling has
shown great foresight in being able to provide technology that
will greatly benefit the European Community."
Argonne has many types of contractual
agreements to meet the needs and interests of industry, state
and local governments, federal agencies and other organizations.
For more information, contact Argonne's Technology Development and Commercialization