Research institutions and companies from various industrial sectors are developing new approaches to using sustainable materials. The core of the consortium project “Future Sustainable Car Materials” (FSCM) is to develop innovative process routes and material concepts across large parts of the value chain. The BMW Group is leading the lighthouse project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). TUM is involved in the project with its interdisciplinary research association CirculaTUM and three chairs and professorships.
The partners have set themselves the goal of reducing the CO2 footprint in the extraction of materials and their processing and recycling through the sustainable development of materials. In accordance with the principle of the circular economy, the aim is to introduce as high a proportion as possible of secondary materials into the cycle, which are significantly less CO2 intensive than primary materials. One focus of FSCM will be on steel and aluminum, which account for a large proportion of CO2 emissions in production. In addition to recycling plastics and metals, the focus will also be on new types of bio-based recyclables.
Transformation to a circular economy
“The project is a first and important building block in a series of activities that we have initiated together with BMW as part of CirculaTUM – the Circular Economy network at TUM – to enable the sustainable transformation of the automotive industry towards circular economy and thus the achievement of climate protection goals. At the same time, it represents an essential component of our CirculaTUM activities on the circular economy in industrial value creation,” says Prof. Magnus Fröhling, who holds the Circular Economy Professorship (CEC) at the TUM Straubing Campus.
As part of the project, the professorship is evaluating the new materials and components in terms of the positive sustainability effects they can achieve. “The systemic effects for the automotive sector will also be very important,” says Prof. Fröhling, who founded the CirculaTUM network together with Prof. Johannes Fottner. Prof. Fottner’s Chair of Materials Handling, Material Flow, Logistics (FML) at TUM is investigating automated dismantling technologies and, above all, suitable components in the project and is developing suitable logistics concepts.
The TUM Chair of Materials Engineering for Additive Manufacturing (MAT) is involved in the collaboration with the digitization of the materials development process and sustainability in the printing and reuse of aluminum powders. “The project enables us to explore how additive manufacturing can be used to close material loops and, thus, achieve sustainable use of materials in the automotive industry,” says chairholder Prof. Peter Mayr.
In vehicle production, renewable raw materials such as natural fibers have already been used for years. Not only are they lighter than alternative materials, but they also have a negative value in the CO2 calculation because they absorb CO2 and emit oxygen during the growth phase. As a renewable raw material, wood also offers the potential for further applications in automotive construction.
“Currently, it is particularly challenging to provide materials from different recyclable material streams in a consistently high quality for the cycle. In the project, partners with different competencies in materials development will work closely together to develop solutions for this,” says Martin Derks, Development Complete Vehicle, Head of Plastics at the BMW Group and project manager of FSCM.
TUM, press release, 2023-02-15.
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (BMWK)
Technische Universität München (TUM)