New project launches to ensure more electric machines doesn’t mean more landfill

The project aims to stop the ‘electric revolution’ for technologies such as EVs resulting in more landfill in the future

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A new sustainability project is developing circular solutions to ensure the drive for electric machines does not lead to an increase in end-of-life parts ending up in landfill.

The project is being led by the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and is being funded by Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing (FEMM), with the partners claiming it is the first of its kind.

Its main aim is to create a more sustainable lifecycle for electrical machines, adopting a circular economy approach to keep materials in use and avoid unnecessary pollution.

The AFRC states that currently, most parts needed to create electric machines such as electric vehicles (EVs), do not have processing methods in place for when they are no longer usable and are therefore sent to landfill.

The £28 million FEMM-funded project has been set up to address key manufacturing challenges and design new electrical machines with improved performance. The finite materials currently being mined for will become harder to find and eventually run out, as demand for electrical machines increases.

To ensure a sustainable solution, the AFRC will develop a UK supply chain for the end-of-life processing of current and future machines, working out the right time to recycle a particular part or component before it is too late.

Senior Manufacturing Engineer at the AFRC, Jill Miscandlon, said: “It’s important that efforts towards electrification do not create issues further down the line that have negative impacts of their own. We do not want to be in a position where we transition to electric vehicles, aeroplanes and wind turbines that end up in landfill at the end of their life.

“We need to strike a balance between designing electric machines with exceptional performance while ensuring that the materials can also be recovered for further use.

“We must absolutely move towards clean energy solutions and electrification but it is essential that we are thinking about the long-term impact of these decisions from the earliest stage possible.”