ABB's recycled motors provide significant environmental savings - reduced 34 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in pilot projects

With ABB, Stena Recycling and SCA now closing the circle of motor recycling, the environmental savings are above expectations. By recycling metals from 11 tons motors in the cycle, carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by almost 34 tons. Through collaboration, circular solutions are created that make Swedish industry sustainable and competitive. At the Circular Initiative event on July 2, the successful results are presented of motor recycling, that were initiated at last year's event.

If all industrially manufactured products were recycled, carbon dioxide emissions in the world could be reduced by 20 percentage points. ABB, Stena Recycling and SCA have closed the circle in a pioneering collaboration on motor recycling. It started with ABB placing smart sensors for energy analysis on some of the motors at SCA in Munksund, Sweden. The smart sensors measure and provide information about the condition of the engines and how efficiently they work. From SCA, 11 tons of replaced motors have now been transported to Stena Recycling's recycling plant in Skänninge outside Linköping. Today, close to one hundred percent of the material weight of these motors has been recycled.

”The industry has a responsibility to contribute to a more sustainable society. In Sweden alone, there are 500,000-600,000 motors, many of which are old, inefficient engines that draw significantly more power than necessary. The absolute most sustainable thing to do is to recycle these inefficient motors, recycle the metals in the cycle and use them to manufacture new, energy-efficient motors," says Ulf Hellström, Head of Motion at ABB.

The result of the project is very positive in terms of the reduced environmental impact. By recycling metals from 11-ton engines in the cycle, carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by almost 34 tons: this corresponds to three times the weight of the engines. In addition, 326 MWh of energy and over 100,000 cubic meters of water were saved compared to mining new metals. In comparison, 326 MWh of energy is the same amount that is used to heat a normal-sized villa for 16 years. 100,000 cubic meters of water can be compared to how much can be accommodated in 40 swimming pools of Olympic dimensions.

  • Ulf Hellström, ABB.
  • Mattias Rapaport, Stena Recycling.

”Metals have the advantage that they can be recycled as many times as you like. With the technology that Stena Recycling has developed, we can material separate aluminum, copper, and iron very well to create the highest possible material value," says Mattias Rapaport, head of the Metals business area at Stena Recycling.

The recycled metals are mainly resold in Sweden, where they go back into the cycle to become new iron, copper, and aluminum products. If the metals are used, for example, in the production of new engines, this means that energy consumption is reduced by between 75 and 95 percent compared with production from newly produced metals.

Modern motors are energy efficient

In the collaboration between ABB, Stena Recycling and SCA, the benefits do not only stop at metal recycling: by installing modern motors, SCA will save a lot of energy. Almost half of the world's electricity is used to power electric motors in buildings and industries. ABB has recently published a report showing that when older electric motors are replaced with optimized, efficient motors, global electricity consumption could be reduced by up to ten percent.

Circular Initiative - circularity and sustainability through partnership

When Stena Recycling hosts the third edition of the Circular Initiative on 2 July, the platform for shared knowledge and common goals around circularity and sustainability, engine recycling is included in the program. The results from the recycling of engines clearly show that partnerships between companies are one of the keys to creating a sustainable society..

”We can achieve much more when we act as partners around production and recycling processes. The more we collaborate, the more successful and sustainable we can become. Therefore, I look forward to developing even more collaborations of the type we have with ABB”, says Mattias Rapaport.

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