Exploring Circular Economy Integration with Lightweight Automotive Design: Insights from the ELCA at JEC World 2024 in Paris

On March 5th 2024 the ELCA visited the JEC World in Paris. The JEC World is the most important global trade show for composites materials and their applications. Held in Paris, JEC World hosts every year all the major players in a spirit of innovation, business, and networking. For the ELCA the JEC World was an important place for networking and for presenting the ZEvRA project, an ambitious Horizon Europe initiative incubated at the ELCA that seeks to develop breakthrough technologies for automotive circularity by 2027.

On the first day of the event, the ELCA was invited by the JEC to participate in a panel discussion alongside some partners of the ZEvRA project (Zero Emission electric Vehicles enabled by haRmonised circularity). This project, coordinated by Fraunhofer IWU (Germany) alongside 27 partners including 5 top EU OEMs, the project started in January this year with a total budget close to €12M. 

This roundtable allowed ELCA experts and ZEvRA project partners to discuss the main challenges faced by the automotive industry in terms of circularity, as well as innovative solutions to overcome them in a holistic way. By this manner, the EU industry is getting better prepared for the upcoming changes that will be brought by the Fit for 55 package in 2030 and 2035. 

From Left to right Violeta Vargas (EURECAT), Thomas Hipke (Frainhofer), Thierry Renault (Forvia), Stefan Caba (EDAG), Ahmed Elmarakbi (University of Northumbria) and Ricardo del Valle Zermeño (Bax & Company)

Notable figures present at the roundtable, representing the ELCA and ZEvRA project, included Thomas Hipke (Fraunhofer IWU), Ahmed Elmarakbi (Northumbria University), Violeta Vargas (Eurecat – member of the ELCA partners Clúster MAV from Spain), Thierry Renault (Forvia), and Stefan Caba (EDAG). Ricardo del Valle Zermeño (Bax & Company) moderated the session.

What were the key findings? 

Measuring circularity is a more complex process than measuring linear economy and solutions such as Material Flow Analysis (MFA), Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), and social LCA can help harmonise the process while covering social aspects.

Affordability remains one of the biggest challenges for the uptake of circular solutions and remanufacturing approaches and recycled materials could help to reduce the associated costs.

The new EU directive for the end of life vehicles (ELV) will push for a more integrated value chain of recycled materials, which will require the participation of different types of stakeholders in a steady supply chain with optimised reverse logistics.

There are numerous knowledge gaps with regards to circularity and more efforts should be invested on providing training and courses on how to use recycled materials.

Advanced manufacturing technologies will play a key role in the coming years, especially with regards to how they’d adapt to recycled materials, bio-based solutions and a more efficient energy usage.

You can view the panel discussion and round up of the JEC below

Keep informed on the updates coming from ELCA by visiting LinkedIn.

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