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Development of a system for high-quality separation of metal alloys from end-of-life-vehicle engines and its reuse in new engines and components for automotive sector

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Vehicle design and manufacturing (VDM)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

In the EU, between 10 and 11 million vehicles reach the end of their useful lives every year. This generates some 9 million tonnes of waste, which is generally contaminated with heavy metals, as well as oil and other lubricating fluids. However, the EU Directive on end-of-life vehicles (ELV) requires all metal components from ELVs be separated and decontaminated for re-introduction in the automobile industry. Nevertheless, a number of countries in Europe are having difficulties in complying with EU legislation, due to a lack of the facilities needed for re-using ELV materials.


The project’s main objective was to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of a new high-capacity process for separating metal alloys with degrees of purity of over 99%. Upon the separation of iron, aluminium and heavy metals from ELV engines, these could then be re-used in new automobile engines and components - gear boxes, engine blocks, casings, etc. - with 100% efficiency in the recuperation of aluminium. Specifically, this would entail the construction of a pilot plant for the fragmentation and separation of the constituent metals from ELV engines, using advanced technology: integrating acoustic insulation, water-based dust particle extraction, granulometric classification, and bi-density flotation separation. And that the process system will be flexible and adaptable enough to cope with future alloys used in engines. The project prototype was expected to process 650 tonnes of used engines a week. The project would also address the logistics of a network linking the firms that processed old engines and the car manufacturers who would use the recycled materials.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Union
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The solution was indeed proven, reinforcing the practical implementation of the ELV Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC), with a facility being developed for the treatment of 33,000 tonnes of ELV engines a year, which are subsequently being re-used in new components. Different metal alloys (mainly iron, aluminium and heavy metals) from an ELV’s engine were separated with the as-expected 99% efficiency. A new market has been created for ELV engines, promoting the dismantling of ELVs, which favours the recycling of its different materials. The industrial facility has a minimum environmental impact. It employs acoustic insulation, has zero water impact, and uses a water-based dust removal process. Lastly, 11 new permanent jobs have been created. The automatic recuperation process of the project was innovative both in Europe and the world, as there had previously been no installation that carried out automatic, continuous, in-line separation of metals such as iron and aluminium with a final impurity level of less than 1% from solely automobile engines. The separation and recuperation systems that had previously been employed comprised two differentiated stages:

  • fragmentation, followed by separation of ferrous metal from non-ferrous metals, from ELVs and other residue sources for the posterior re-sale and re-integration in the manufacturing cycle;
  • separation of non-ferrous metals from materials including heavy metals, plastics and other non-ferrous materials.

These processes had been carried out with varying degrees of purity of the final products, and not in-line continuous processes, with separate stages, taking place in separate plants, using different sources for the metals. Recieder was the first industrial company to develop a system that integrated these two phases to guarantee >99% purity of aluminium and other metals in a single continuous in-line process. The plant is able to process 33,000 tonnes of ELV engines, with an estimated recovery rate of 15.6% or 5,148 tonnes of aluminium per year. The re-use of this material in automobile production can directly replace primary aluminium production and thus deliver an annual benefit to the environment of 79,446 tonnes of CO2 not being emitted and 947 million MJ of energy not being exhausted in primary production, which in turn delivers a savings of approximately €5 million. The progress for the automotive sector is expected to be high given that it will have a significant impact on the waste levels from this sector. It allows the recuperation of metals from engines and the posterior reintegration of these metals in the manufacture of new engines. This will bring about a significant increase in availability of high-quality secondary resources and offer commensurate energy savings this entails. This also decreases dependence on imports of primary raw materials, improving the sustainability of the automobile sector as a whole.

This project has been selected as one of the 21 Best LIFE Environment projects in 2007-2008


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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