Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Diran Apelian, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Richard D. Sisson, Department Head

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Brajendra Mishra, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Daniel Mueller, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Uwe Habich, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Hilmer Kirschner, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Kevin Anderson, Committee Member




The automotive industry is expected to transition from a net-consumer to a net-producer of aluminum scrap as aluminum-intensive vehicles (AIVs, i.e., Ford’s aluminum-bodied F-150) begin to reach end-of-life (EOL). In the past, the industry has downcycled aluminum scrap to meet the consumption demands of the automotive sector. With the shift to having a large supply of this scrap in the near future, the industry needs to recover and reuse EOL Al by utilizing a circular economic model, create value via an upcycling paradigm (vs downcycling). This work establishes a platform as to how the recycling industry can be restructured to create value in our waste streams and is organized in three segments: First, an analysis of the flow of automobiles at EOL was carried out from the perspective of recovery and reuse; a recycling rate for Al has been determined, and the factors that go into the dynamics of the recycling rate have been identified. Secondly, the current state of the market was surveyed to evaluate where improvements could be made to affect material collection and recovery. The latter led to compositional characterization of aluminum auto-shred to identify the alloys in the mixture, and thereby the needed intelligent sorting systems for upcycling. Thirdly, these results were used in a dynamic material flow model to predict how the composition of auto-shred will change due to increased aluminum usage and as a function of various end-of-life processing scenarios. The outcome and impact of this work is that we have established a platform that enables the ELV recycling industry to upcycle the large amount of Al that will be available in the near future. These results will be discussed and reviewed during this presentation.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Materials Science & Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





aluminum, auto-shred, circular economy, intelligent sorting systems, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, light-weighting, material flow analysis, recycling, scrap metal, secondary aluminum alloys, sustainability, upcycling, x-ray fluorescence, x-ray transmission