Mini has revealed an interesting fact about the limited production Mini Cooper SE Convertible. It is the first production car with wheels made from 100% recycled aluminum. Despite sharing the same look as the wheels available in the regular SE hatch, they are actually much greener.
The wheels were developed in collaboration with Swiss wheel manufacturer Ronal. The company sells his wheels aftermarket under the Ronal and Speedline brands and supplies them to OEMs. And the production of greener wheels is nothing new. It supplies wheels for the Audi E-Tron GT that are manufactured using a smelting process that produces oxygen rather than carbon dioxide, and currently has a line of aftermarket wheels that are claimed to be carbon neutral. I’m here.
But let’s go back to the wheels of the Mini. Using all recycled aluminum has the obvious advantage of not having to manufacture new aluminum. However, the benefits are not limited to the use of raw materials.Mini points out big improvement in carbon emissions comes from being able to skip Electrolytic process for new aluminum productionPure aluminum is extracted from aluminum oxide (which is obtained from the mineral bauxite). To do this, a molten solution of aluminum oxide and cryolite (which consumes energy in heat) is passed a large amount of electricity through graphite cathodes and anodes. Not only does this use a lot of electricity which has its own carbon cost, the oxygen that separates from the aluminum bond bonds to the graphite anode, producing more carbon dioxide (which is why Audi wheel manufacturing is also interesting The reason is).
Overall, Mini says the production of recycled wheels reduces carbon emissions by 75%. More specifically, we estimate about 0.16 kilograms (0.35 pounds) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of aluminum used. Mini also emphasizes that this process maintains all the strength of traditional wheels in a more environmentally friendly way. And of course, the wheels themselves are also recyclable. MINI, and BMW more broadly, are looking at ways to expand their processes and source suitable recyclable products. Neither company has said anything about when fully recycled wheels will become more widely available.