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Recycled Aluminium Innovation

Innovate UK

3 min read Partner content

Continuing its support of cutting edge technology, Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board), has played a key role in enabling Jaguar Land Rover to develop a new aluminium alloy, which means that up to 50% of the body of the new Jaguar XE is made from recycled aluminium.

This new lightweight aluminium alloy, which is made from processed scrap, is not only better for the environment - the lighter car will also produce less CO2 emissions - but it also has the potential to be used by other producers in the transport sector.

This came about as a result of a collaborative RD competition launched by Innovate UK in 2007 that led to the support of the project REALCAR (Recycled Aluminium Car). Six other partner organisations were involved, ensuring that there was a fully integrated supply chain. Innovate UK contributed approximately 69% of the funding towards the £2 million project.  A second project, REALCAR 2, is now working on increasing the percentage of recycled aluminium.

Each partner had clearly defined roles and offered complementary expertise to successfully deliver the project objectives. The other partners were: Novelis, Zyomax, Norton, Stadco, Brunel University and Innoval Technology. 

Business Secretary Vince Cable says, “This is a fine example of a great British company driving great British innovation. This could be a game changer for the industry and a welcome boost to the supply chain.”

Innovate UK’s lead technologist for advanced materials, John Morlidge says, “the REALCAR project exemplifies Innovate UK’s top priorities of stimulating and supporting business-led innovation in bringing exciting new products to market.  This project has made real inroads in demonstrating the economic and sustainability benefits that can be achieved from the use of lower cost recycled metal sources rather than primary metal production”.

Adrian Tautscher from Jaguar Land Rover Materials Engineering explains, “Innovate UK has delivered two key outcomes, firstly, it has brought together a collaborative team from industry and academia to drive the development of the aluminium alloy that delivers real sustainable benefits.  Secondly, this funding has been essential in offsetting the high development costs to allow Jaguar Land Rover to speed delivery of this innovative material.”

The new Jaguar XE is the first car in the world to use RC 5754 - an aluminium alloy developed especially for the next generation of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. Future models will also use RC 5754 and this breakthrough will help to move Jaguar Land Rover towards its goal of increased recycling with the current REALCAR2 project, exploring the potential to reach aluminium sheet recycling rates of up to 75 per cent. 

This innovation is helping to reduce greenhouse gases in the production phase and supports a ‘circular economy’.  Recycling aluminium uses 95% less energy and a lighter car reduces vehicle tailpipe emissions, which benefits both present and future generations by conserving energy and other natural resources.

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