Material recycling techniques used in the Opel Adam
85 percent of every new vehicle must be recyclable, according to the EU End of Vehicle Life Directive. And this guideline will become even more stringent: from 2015, 95 percent of all new vehicles’ overall weight must be recyclable. Opel is ideally equipped to meet this strict directive, as the Rüsselsheim automaker has been working with recyclate components since 1990. Initially four approved recyclate types were used in the Opel Calibra – today 200 are used across the model portfolio. This enables Opel to use a total of 45,000 tons of recyclates in new vehicles every year.
In the Opel ADAM, potentially 170 components made of recycled materials are used. This is in perfect harmony with the urban lifestyle car that saves resources thanks to its small size, low fuel consumption and high number of recyclate components. This also means that the eco angel’s environmental footprint is already reduced during its production, which takes place in Opel’s Eisenach plant. And that is another special ADAM characteristic – it is the only small car from a German manufacturer that is also built in Germany. The pressures and temperatures required for processing pellets made from recycled materials are lower than when using new materials. The energy this saves leads to 30 percent lower CO2 emissions.
The raw materials for the headlight housings, bumper mounts and water deflector between the engine compartment and splash wall are all made from recycled plastics. Plastic bottle tops are the basis for such unmixed, pure pellets. High-tech components are then created from these black pellets, for example in a plastic injection molding process. Recyclates may even be superior to new plastic products, as they are less prone to warp and expand or contract. In the Opel ADAM, even the inlet manifold is a recyclate. It is extremely durable, holding up under temperatures ranging from -40° up to +200° C during exhaust gas recirculation. Further benefits of recycled materials include their vibration behavior (low risk of breakage), their UV resistance and the fitting accuracy of the components created from them.
“Today Opel is an industry leader in the development and use of recyclates that are produced by suppliers who meticulously follow our guidelines. We use recycled plastic where it makes technical sense. In this way we save raw materials and energy, and reduce our environmental footprint without the slightest technical disadvantage,” says Michael Ableson, Vice President Engineering, explaining Opel’s sustainability concept.