Audi to recycle faulty car glass, may use it for Q4 e-tron windows

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In a constant effort to achieve its circular economy strategy, Audi is teaming up with various companies — Reiling Glas Recycling, Saint-Gobain Glass, and Saint-Gobain Sekurit — to recycle faulty car glass.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • What companies did Audi team up with for this pilot project?

    Audi has teamed up with Reiling Glas Recycling, Saint-Gobain Glass, and Saint-Gobain Sekurit in a project to recycle faulty window glass.
  • How long will the project take before it is introduced in the Audi Q4 e-tron production?

    According to Audi, the involved companies have decided to put the process in a one-year trial before they decide to use the recycled glass in production vehicles.
  • Audi started a similar initiative in 2017 where it recycled aluminum scraps from the company’s press shops to be introduced into a similar closed circuit. With glass, the Ingolstadt-based carmaker looks to close another material circuit.

    “Our goal is to use secondary materials everywhere it is technically possible and economically reasonable to do so. We’re working on introducing materials we have direct access to into closed circuits. As of now, for example, old car glazing is not being used to produce new car windows. We want to change that,” said Audi Head of Procurement Strategy Marco Philippi.

    The pilot project has a multi-stage process that starts with selected dealerships in the Volkswagen Group’s retail network. The glass on windows that are deemed beyond repair are sent to the Group’s subsidiary which organizes the disposal of parts and prepares the glass for recycling. The faulty glass is then forwarded to Reiling Glas Recycling where they are broken into small pieces and are later processed.

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    “Until now, the recycled material has mostly been turned into beverage bottles. Car glass has to meet the most stringent requirements, for example with respect to crash safety. Those demands don’t apply to bottles,” explained Reiling Glas Recycling Plant Manager Daniel Rottwinkel.

    When the glass has been broken down, sorted, and processed, it is then shipped to Saint-Gobain Glass, where they turn it into plate glass. To do that, Saint-Gobain Glass further segregates the ground glass and mixes in recyclates, quartz sand, sodium carbonate, and chalk.

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    The target for the pilot project with Audi is about 40 tons of recycled car glass.

    “For us, this cycle of making new car windows out of old ones is an important step toward producing automotive glass in a way that conserves resources and energy. We’re just starting to look at glass as a recyclate, so we anticipate that there will be more potential for improvement,” said Saint-Gobain Herzogenrath Production Manager Dr. Markus Obdenbusch.

    The plate glass is first processed into rectangles of about 3 x 6 meters (10 x 20 feet) each. After that, the affiliated company Saint-Gobain Sekurit produces automotive glass through an additional process.

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    The three partner companies have decided to put the process to an initial one-year test so that they can learn about material quality, stability, and costs. If glass can be recycled in an economical and ecologically meaningful way, car windows made from secondary materials will be used in the Audi Q4 e-tron series.

    Photos from Audi

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