Science Questions

What materials does a car consist of?

Sat, 19th May 2012

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Question

Dreyer Swart asked:

Dear Chris,

 

I'm doing a science project on the recycling of a used car. I need to know what the percentages of materials used in producing a car.

 

Is it possible to obtain such information somewhere?

 

Regards.

 

Dreyer Swart.

Answer

Nick -   We’ve talked quite a lot tonight about some quite high performance alloys.  We’ve talked about nickel-based superalloys, and these are quite expensive materials.  Cars want to be a bit cheaper, we want to be able to afford them from our own pockets so we quite often use more common alloys such as the steels, so iron based alloys, or aluminium alloys which are a little bit cheaper, due to their cheaper raw materials.

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As well as the metals, there is also plastics, rubber and glass.
Glass is fairly easy to recycle, but the rubber tyres have steel reinforcing, and the plastic upholstery is often reinforced with fibres, which makes it harder to recycle.
Perhaps manufacturers need to be reminded to consider the disposal costs of the vehicle, if they are going to make it more recyclable? evan_au, Sat, 2nd Jun 2012



It is very hard to recycle every part of your car.. I am newbie in this recycling industry and working very hard to find right way of using things which are tough to recycle.. shanewoods21, Sun, 16th Jun 2013



It is very hard to recycle every part of your car.. I am newbie in this recycling industry and working very hard to find right way of using things which are tough to recycle..


In Europe, the End of Life Vehicle Directive (Directive 2000/53) requires 85% (by weight) of a car to be recycleable by 1 January 2015 and 95% (by weight) to be recoverable i.e. fuel in a waste to energy plant (incinerator) by the same date.  This has driven development of plastic "skins" to cover fascias etc. so they can be formed from more easily recycled materials it has also driven reductions in the use of harmful substnaces (such as heavy metals) in vehicel manufacture.   

The directive also puts an obligation on car manufacturers to take back / treat the waste (vehicles) they produce (and more importantly proove they have done it)  although this is in effect achieved through the regualtion of breakers / scrap metal dealers and specialist facillities. Mazurka, Mon, 17th Jun 2013

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