An energy-saving equivalent to the output of 900 wind turbines. That would come about if all older electric motors in Swedish industry were replaced with new efficient ones. The old motors also consist of large amounts of recyclable valuable metals. This is now conceivable, as ABB and Stena Recycling recently signed a long-term agreement on the recycling of old electric motors.
− To make companies able to redirect to carbon-neutral production, we must help them release green electric capacity. Our goal is to help the industry save energy by supplying energy-efficient motors, while also ensuring that the materials of the old motors are recycled, says Ulf Hellström, business area manager for ABB Motion Sweden.
Large parts of Swedish industry today are characterized by old low-voltage motors, neither energy-efficient nor dimensioned for their task. This causes large energy losses. At the same time, the industry needs more electrification to phase out fossil fuels and become carbon dioxide neutral. ABB and Stena Recycling will straighten out this lopsided equation through a long-term collaboration on recycling old electric motors, replacing them with modern motors.
A Circular Initiative outcome
The collaboration is an outcome of the Circular Initiative sustainability incentive. The collaboration arena was launched in the spring of 2019, with a goal of creating concrete solutions for circular material flows in Swedish industry.
− To retrieve as clean raw material as possible, we will recycle the end-of-life motors in a sustainable way in a separate recycling flow. Recycling of aluminium, copper and iron provides an energy-saving of between 75 and 95 per cent compared to new production of these metals. The metals recycled will be sold locally if possible, to further reduce the environmental impact. The metals are then reused in new products, says Fredrik Pettersson, Managing Director of Stena Recycling in Sweden.
The potential of the energy-saving is significant, if all old Swedish industry electric motors would be replaced.
− With properly dimensioned and more energy-efficient motors, less energy will be required to produce the same mechanical output in the industry of the future. Upgrading all old motors in the Swedish industry, would save at least four terawatt hours. This is equivalent to the capacity of 900 wind turbines, or a reduction of the industry’s electric energy use by eight percent, Ulf Hellström says.
Facts Circular Initiative
The Circular Initiative is a collaborative arena, where decision-makers meet to discuss and develop solid measures for a more circular material flow in Swedish industry. The initiative was launched in the spring of 2019. The initiator is Stena Recycling and ABB, Combitech, Electrolux and Stora Enso has been partners since its start.