Research project aims at sustainable headlights

Research project aims at sustainable headlights

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Together with partners, Hella is researching how headlamps can be made more climate-friendly.

To this end, the automotive supplier operating under the Forvia umbrella has now started the NALYSES research project. The results of the project are to flow into the development of future headlamp generations, but are also to be made usable for other application and product areas.

The aim of the research project is for Hella to design and produce products that are more resource-friendly and lower in emissions in the future. Within the framework of the NALYSES project, the participants are looking at the possibilities for reducing the CO2 footprint of a headlamp over its entire life cycle. Essentially, therefore, the project will use headlamps to research how products and raw materials can be used for as long as possible in the sense of a circular economy. The findings will make a significant contribution to Hella’s climate goal of producing CO2-neutral products by 2045 at the latest. But the project is especially relevant because the findings go far beyond the headlamp as a product. For example, the approaches from the project are also to be transferred to vehicle components from the electronics sector and, last but not least, to other industries, such as the production of household appliances.

Focus on repairability and recyclability

The investigations begin with the selection of sustainable, low-emission materials. In this context, the researchers are looking at how recycled or bio-based plastics can be used, for example. Product design also plays a decisive role: a sustainable headlamp should be both repairable and recyclable in order to increase service life, conserve resources and contribute to the circular economy, explains Michael Kleinkes, who is responsible for development in the lighting sector at Hella. Individual components should be able to be reprocessed and recycled at the end of the headlamp’s life.

NALYSES stands for “NAchhaltigkeitsoptimiertes Life CYcle AsSESsment” (Sustainability-optimised Life Cycle Assessment). In addition to leading the consortium, Hella is supporting the research project primarily through its expertise in automotive lighting technology. Among the other partners, BMW defines the overall system requirements of the automotive manufacturers, while Covestro and Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences contribute their expertise in sustainable materials. The University of Paderborn and Fraunhofer IEM are developing a digital product twin that can be used to evaluate recyclability and the impact of material selection or design on the carbon footprint in a very short time. The household appliance manufacturer Miele is involved in the research project in order to transfer findings to other industries.

The three-year project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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