If you’re like us, and you get seriously annoyed every time you see some fool pitch an empty Busch or Coors can out the window, take heart. Not everyone among us is that kind of irresponsible. Hopefully, that helps to explain why it’s gratifying to learn that the science of recovering waste metals is an ongoing learning process aided by industry. It’s good for the environment and moreover, just plain good business. Nissan recently issued an explainer on how it saves metal, and energy, in the manufacturing process for the Nissan Rogue, its midsize crossover SUV, which happens to lead that segment of the U.S. market in terms of sales. Here’s what we learned.
Most of the 2021 Rogue’s structure is robotically welded from stamped steel, in keeping with common industry practice. To save weight, and thereby boost the Rogue’s EPA mileage rating, its hood and doors are stamped from aluminum, rather than heavier thin-gauge sheet steel. If you’re familiar with the process, you know that refining bauxite into raw aluminum requires vast amounts of electric power. Nissan has partnered with Kobe Steel Ltd. and UACJ Corporation in Japan, and with Arconic Corporation and Novellis Inc. in the United States, to create a closed-loop recycling system for the Rogue’s aluminum components. As aluminum sheet is stamped into body parts, leftover scrap is shredded and collected using a pneumatic system, then separated by metal grade and returned to a processing firm. This kind of recycling reduces the amount of energy that would have been required to make aluminum from raw bauxite by more than 90 percent. You do the math. This is what can happen when the private sector commits itself to environmental responsibility.