NEWS - 2023/03/16

Circular Economy in the Automotive Industry: MATERFAD’s Initiatives and Contributions towards a More Sustainable Future

There is currently a growing awareness of the need to reduce our environmental impact, especially across the automotive industry, which contributes to over 10% of industrial emissions. To reverse the situation, we must adopt life cycle decarbonization to meet the goal established in the Paris Agreement’s net-zero target. There are several initiatives and projects helping us move towards this goal, being Materfad one of them. CARNET is in close collaboration with the research center to work towards a more sustainable industry, reason why our team visited their office to get to know more about the disruptive materials than can help our industry.

Materfad, the Barcelona Materials Centre, was created by FAD to provide companies, educational institutions and design, architecture and engineering professionals with knowledge of the latest trends in new materials and technologies for sustainable innovation. This is key if we want to shift towards circularity in the automotive field.

Circular economy can reduce the environmental impact of production and help to preserve natural resources. A circular economy is an economic system that aims to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. Resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and waste is minimized through reuse, recycling, and regeneration. Through the implementation of circular economy measures, which can include vehicle sharing, smart charging, refurbishing, repurposing, and recycling, we can significantly reduce both environmental impacts and costs throughout the entire lifecycle.

Matefad promotes a more sustainable production in the automotive industry by providing research, resources, and guidance to designers and manufacturers. The center works with companies to identify materials that can be incorporated into a closed-loop system in which materials are reused or recycled within the chain, rather than being discarded as waste.

Recycled materials can also be more cost-effective than virgin materials, as they are often cheaper to source. However, ideally, the use of circular economy principles within the automotive industry, along with the development of smart materials, is a better alternative, as it will reduce waste. Nonetheless, there are a lot of materials already in use and discarded as waste which can be recycled and incorporated into the design of cars.

Smart materials are another area of focus for Materfad. Smart materials are materials that can respond to changes in their environment or stimuli, such as temperature or pressure. Smart materials have the potential to make vehicles safer, more efficient, and more comfortable. An example of this could be shape-memory alloys (SMAs), which can be used in the development of self-healing components such as smart bumpers, which could repair themselves when dented or scratched, or in the development of smart springs and shock absorbers that can adjust their stiffness in response to road conditions.

In conclusion, Materfad is driving sustainable innovation in the automotive industry through the promotion of circular economy principles, recycled materials, and smart materials. By encouraging the development of sustainable materials and circular economy models, Materfad is helping to reduce the environmental impact of the automotive industry. And by developing smart materials, they are helping to make vehicles safer, more efficient, and more comfortable.