Some companies are using blockchain to ensure ethical provenance of rare-Earth minerals, but BMW is taking that a step further by creating a closed-loop cycle for tungsten that effectively recycles the material at levels we haven’t seen before.
Tungsten was once considered an irritating by-product of tin mining, since it ‘ate up’ the tin ore. It took a few hundred years for carbide’s unique properties to be recognized. It’s heavy like gold, hard as a diamond and dozens of times more heat-resistant than iron.
Today, it can be found in the vibration alarm of mobile phones and light bulb filaments, as well as drill and milling bits for industrial machinery used in producing cars.
BMW alone works through some 7 tons (!) of tungsten per year.
The BMW Group has now created a closed-loop material cycle for this unique metal and is collecting old drill and milling bits at its plants in Germany and Austria for recycling. The secondary tungsten obtained in this way will then be used to manufacture new milling and drilling tools.
Using recycled tungsten recovered in its new process will enable BMW to reduces its tungsten-related energy consumption by 70%, and those CO2 emissions by more than 60% as well. Significant numbers, in other words, and numbers that mean rate of destructive mining is going down.
BMW plans to significantly increase the percentage of recycled raw materials by 2030 and use raw materials multiple times in a circular economy.
Reference- EV Obsession, BMW Group Online Newsroom, Clean Technica