Driving down waste

Written by: Geraldine Faulkner | Published:
Adrian Tautscher

Jaguar Land Rover’s sustainable aluminium strategies leader, Adrian Tautscher, tells Geraldine Faulkner about the automotive group’s part-government-funded REALCAR research project to reclaim scrap metal for use in new cars, making them more efficient and reducing their waste impact

It is not everyone who is lucky enough – or sufficiently gifted and hard working enough – to end up in the career field they dreamed of as a child, be it as a pilot, fireman or, as in the case of Adrian Tautscher, working for Jaguar Land Rover.

“I am a petrol-head,” he confesses with a smile. “From childhood, I have been interested in the automotive sector and always had my head in car magazines.”

A mechanical engineer by trade, Tautscher works in JLR’s sustainable aluminium strategies, which led him to become involved in the REALCAR research project. Standing for REcycled ALuminium CAR, it is a JLR-led research project, part-funded by Innovate UK (the government’s innovation funding agency), which also includes Novelis, the aluminium recycling specialist.

While it may not sound the sexiest job title in the world, Tautscher is in no doubt that ‘sustainable aluminium strategies’ is right on the button. It is the most fascinating and apposite field for him to be working in, particularly when you are an engineer who is obsessed with using recycled materials in high-end premium goods – and they don’t come more high-end and premium than Jaguar and Land Rover.

“Vehicle manufacturers must address the sustainability challenge in a cost-effective manner while maintaining vehicle attributes and producing vehicles that appeal to their customers,” says Tautscher before emphasising: “It is all about driving down waste.”

Following Ferrari’s footsteps

It is not the first time that recycled materials have been used in luxury vehicles. Recycled plastics have been used in the manufacture of hi-fi speaker grills in Ferrari’s F80.

First mooted in 2008, the REALCAR project, part of JLR’s circular economy strategy to improve resource efficiency across the business, has been motoring along nicely ever since.

In the spring of this year, as Jaguar marked the first full year of sales for the XE, its saloon car with its aluminium-intensive body, REALCAR celebrated the reclamation of more than 50,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap, the weight of nearly 200,000 Jaguar XE body shells, back into the production process during 2015/16, preventing more than 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent from entering the atmosphere by not using primary aluminium material. So it is no small wonder that Tautscher and his colleagues are pleased with the progress that has been made by REALCAR.

“The project’s success so far marks a significant step towards our goal of having up to 75% recycled aluminium content in our vehicle body structures by 2020,” says Nick Rogers, JLR’s group engineering director.

With understandable pride, Tautscher adds: “The Jaguar XE’s aluminium-intensive body shell (75% aluminium) weighs 251kg, so 50,000 tonnes of aluminium scrap is the equivalent weight to 199,203 XE body shells. It is also worth noting that for every 100kg saved in the vehicle mass, it saves around 2% in fuel consumption.”

The materials man

How did the engineer end up as a materials specialist?

Originally from Guernsey, Tautscher came to the UK to study engineering.

“My final year project was based around aerospace and that is what drew me into the material sector. From there I went into the steel industry where my first postgraduate job was with British Steel.

That gave me a lot of experience of steel as a product and its performance, which led to an introduction to aluminium,” recalls the engineer.

Then, as if one high-end luxury vehicle manufacturer was not enough, Tautscher recalls the time he spent with Lotus Engineering in Norfolk before joining Jaguar.

“That’s what really took me into the field, evaluating the whole range of materials and then in 2002 I started at Jaguar’s engineering centre at Coventry, where shortly afterwards it became Jaguar Land Rover.”

His only regret about his time at Lotus was never having driven one.

“I was at too junior a level,” Tautscher remembers before adding: “The fascination with Lotus is that it’s a small company where you experience the entire process of engineering and manufacturing. It means you see the whole picture.”

Then came the offer from Jaguar.

Tautscher again: “The offer was a management role and was very attractive. It built on what I had learnt in the supply chain, which demonstrated significant growth around aluminium architecture, coming after the all-aluminium XJ that was launched in 2003.”

It is important not to undervalue the importance of the XJ and the new processes that were used in its manufacture. In June 2007, motoring correspondent Andy Enright wrote: “The body structure [of the Jaguar XJ] features the first volume monocoque design to use rivetbonded joining technology, with self-pierce rivets and aerospace-sourced epoxy adhesive joining together the aluminium pressings, castings and extrusions. The extensive use of aluminium made the new XJ up to 200kg lighter than the model it replaced, despite the fact that the new car was longer, taller and wider than its predecessor, offering improved headroom, legroom and shoulder-room for all the occupants. In addition to being 40% lighter than that of the previous XJ, the body shell of the new car was 10-15% stiffer, offering valuable improvements in body strength and drivability.”

Taking things a step further

Using aluminium to create a lighter car was one thing; Tautscher and his team then set about trying to understand what could be done to reduce Jaguar’s manufacturing impact and create an alloy out of recycled aluminium.Enter REALCAR, which saw the development of a recycled aluminium-based alloy that can accept a higher percentage of recovered scrap.

In 2014, the Jaguar XE became the first car in the world to use the structural aluminium alloy developed by project partner Novelis, the aluminium recycling specialist.

None of this came cheap of course and required a hefty investment by JLR.

“So far, the JLR investment includes £5.8m in our Halewood press shop. We currently have 12 press shops in the closed-loop system and our upgraded conveyor system at Halewood has over 1.8km of conveyors,” explains Tautscher, who adds that success at the start of the project was not a given.

“We don’t always get it right and even though it may sound strange to say ‘failure is good’, it is. For example, there were issues with huge cracks in the casting of ingots, but you get to understand the limit of where you can go with your chemistry and your ideas.”

With REALCAR now moving into its third phase (christened ‘REALITY’), the future for Tautscher’s team, his project partners and the increase in alloy deployment at Jaguar looks bright.

“I predict there will be more aluminium consumed in the future,” says the project leader enthusiastically. “It is essential we get back every shred of metal and that it is kept as pure and clean as possible. Our vehicles will have a very long life and we must ensure materials like aluminium are returned to us as a secondary source.”

While Tautscher admits that engineers are not good at celebrating success (“We tend to move straight on to the next piece of work”) he says that an opportunity to stop and assess what has been achieved makes a welcome change.

“It’s great to take time to stop and celebrate,” he smiles.

Fact file: Adrian Tautscher's CV

Tautscher has worked in materials engineering at Jaguar Land Rover since 2002 and is responsible for sustainable aluminium strategies. This role is leading aluminium recycling initiatives at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to reduce downgrading, retain value and reduce environmental impact through innovation.

He is project leader for the REALCAR (REcycled ALuminium CAR) research project based on high recycled sheet aluminium developments from closed-loop sources, and the next phase project REALCAR 2, which has investigated opportunities to exploit additional recycled aluminium from post-consumer and end-of-life vehicles. These projects are developing recycling strategies and new recycled tolerant aluminium alloys for use in the next generation of JLR vehicles.

Previous responsibility within JLR was group leader for the materials engineering body-in-white/corrosion teams, which have led to the introduction of new materials into the latest aluminium architectures.

Five things I can't live without...

Chocolate: I do eat a lot of chocolate and I am a milk chocolate fan.

Cars: I love everything to do with cars, whether they’re modern or classic cars.

Movies: I love watching films. It is all pure escapism. Prometheus is a film I enjoyed recently.

Sport: I am not particularly interested in watching it but in keeping fit. I even took a course to become a personal trainer.

Family: My family doesn’t have an engineering background and even though I’ve always worked in engineering, they still don’t really know what I do.

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