Need to Recycle Automotive Fluids

Over the years automotive recycling has developed into a big industry. This is because technological developments have given rise to processes which have made it possible to recycle most parts of a car. These days every part such as plastics, glass, different parts, fluids used in a car is recycled.

Most of the fluids used in cars need proper disposal. This is because if they leak into the environment, they can cause serious damage. The reason is that they contain toxic chemicals.

Let us see various fluids that are used in a car and their impact on the environment:

Engine Oil:

Internal combustion engines of automobiles need frequent changes of oil and oil filter. If we consider the number of cars on road, you can imagine the quantity of waste engine oil that is generated. But fortunately, engine oil can be recycled. You can remove used oil from your car and give it away to a recycling center. You can replace used oil with fresh oil.

Antifreeze:

Antifreeze should not be allowed to escape into the environment. This is because it is toxic and it could mix with underground water. The antifreeze water is sweet to taste and can be consumed by children and animals. This is hazardous for health. The good news is that there are processes to recycle antifreeze.

Anti-transmission fluid (ATF):

If this fluid is released into the environment, it causes severe damage. It seeps into the soil contaminating it. Animals and insects consume it and die. This affects the food cycle and negatively impacts the ecosystem. These pollutants make their way into the water supply also. This adversely affects the life of aquatic creatures. Recyclers collect used ATF so that it does not get leaked into the environment.

Brake Fluid:

Brake fluid contains glycols, solvents, and heavy metals. It is also flammable. Hence, it should be carefully disposed of.

Windshield washer fluid:

This fluid is toxic in nature since it contains methanol, detergent, and water. It should not be mixed with other automotive fluids.

Fluids can easily leak into the environment causing irreparable damage. Hence, we should all make a conscious effort to ensure that this leakage is avoided. Since there are recycling centers to recycle most of these toxic fluids, we should do our bit for disposing of them.

We can collect used fluids in containers and give them away at recycling centers. However, we need to ensure that we collect the different fluids separately. Safe disposal of automotive fluids is a great service to mankind.

Automotive AC Machines

As any mechanic knows, the ability to offer a comprehensive service to customers, being able to offer repairs and care for all aspects of a motor vehicle maintenance program is key to being able to retain customers. Air Conditioning is more or less standard across all models these days, and while in the past, AC maintenance was a highly skilled and niche market, it is now an essential side of the business and key to any workshop’s continued success.

In order to ensure that refrigerant is recovered properly from a car’s air conditioning system during servicing, a workshop must use an automotive AC machine. These devices prevent the release through venting of CFC gases. EPA guidelines require that when a car is being serviced, the Freon, or CFC12 that is used as the coolant should be collected and recycled in order that it is not released into the environment where it can potentially damage the ozone layer.

The refrigerant used in most motor vehicle air conditioning systems is based on chlorofluorocarbons, which have been linked with causing damage to the ozone layer, and as such, the control of these substances is of particular concern to the environmental protection agency. Whenever a car air conditioning system undergoes maintenance, proper care must be taken to protect the environment from the release of CFCs, and this is best done by using automotive AC Machines.

By reusing Freon gas rather than allowing it to be vented into the atmosphere, the environment is protected. However, when the refrigerant is collected from a car’s air conditioning it can be contaminated with water, oil and any of the other liquids that are used in cars. By using automotive AC machines, it is possible to process the refrigerant and remove any of the other fluids from it, allowing it to be reused, either in the same system as it has been drained from, or alternatively, in another car altogether.

There are a whole range of different refrigerant recovery machines on the market to suit all types of workshop, from small operations through to large commercial garages that deal with many different types of car, and need to be able to offer a complete service to clients.

Choosing the right automotive AC machines for your needs can be a daunting task, and too many people simply opt for the cheapest model available, rather than making an informed decision about the best product for their needs. EPA requirements aside, the most important factor when choosing the correct automotive AC machine for your business, is the capacity of the machine to deal with the range of vehicles that you currently work on. You need to choose a machine that can connect easily with all the different types of car that your workshop deals with, and which has enough capacity to recover and treat the refrigerant left in the system to remove any impurities.

Basic automotive AC machines such as the Pro Set Oiless Portable Recovery Recycle Unit are flexible enough to reprocess coolant from a fairly wide range of sources, remove any contaminating oils and other liquids, and release the Freon in perfect condition for reuse.

There are other machines in a similar price bracket that are reliable enough for every day use, and yet still compact enough not to require a vast amount of space in your workshop. Automotive AC Machines such as the Inficon Vortex refrigerant recovery machine are ideally suited to occasional use, and are very compact.

If offering AC repairs and servicing is key to your business, then having the right tools for the job is essential. Getting it right at the beginning when you choose an AC coolant recovery machine often means choosing a model from the Cool Tech range. These robust and highly regarded specialist tools are at the centre of any serious AC shop, and thanks to their efficiency and great value for money, will pay for themselves over and over again.

It All Starts Here – A Review of the Automotive Starter Battery Market

Consolidation among the major battery manufacturers continues to shape the industry, particularly across Europe. Johann-Friedrich Dempwolff, Vice President Sales OEM/OES, VB Autobatterie GmbH, said: “If you look back to 1990, in Germany there were ten battery producers. In the UK there were at least five producers. In France there were several. In Italy there were over 50 very small businesses. All this has dramatically changed over the last decade. There are only a few strong players left in the marketplace.”

“The result of tighter environmental requirements, together with other legislation, has been the closure of plants in Western Europe and a move to the Far East, particularly China, and to super-plants,” said Lucas Batteries’ David Haseler. “We have recently announced the closure of our Birmingham [UK] factory for manufacturing, and will be sourcing from companies in Asia. Our advantage is that these are company-owned plants which will allow us to maintain a close control over supply and quality.”

Today, four valve regulated lead-acid battery manufacturers – of which three are American — have emerged as global players: Johnson Controls, Delphi, Exide Technologies and Yuasa. These four companies collectively control 55% of the global market. Johnson Controls recently signaled its intention to buy Delphi’s global battery business for $212.5 million. Yuasa recently merged with Japan Storage Battery, forming GS Yuasa Corp. Yuasa holds an 8% share of the global lead storage battery market while Japan Storage Battery has a 6% share. Their combined market share of 14% ranks them in third place in the global market.

The flood of imported batteries from tiger economies (such as China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia) is also posing a serious challenge to European manufacturers. That has become a double-whammy for UK-based supplies since the imported units are especially cheap due to the weak dollar. Perversely, the Asian manufacturers have driven up the cost of lead because their consumption of it is so high. The price of oil is also driving up the cost of polypropylene used in battery manufacture.

Technically speaking, the starter battery market has moved completely to calcium-calcium technology, and the change is now almost complete in the aftermarket, certainly in developed countries. Lucas Batteries’ Haseler said: “There is a fast-growing requirement for sealed [non-accessible] lids with re-condensing features in the OE market, and this changeover should be complete within a few years. This reflects the trend in the automotive industry for sealed units. This is being closely followed by the requirement for a ‘tip-tilt’ lid, that is, a lid that will not allow any acid to leak out of the battery for at least 30 minutes with the battery at any angle. If the battery is still being charged, this time reduces to two minutes. This is achieved by a more complex labyrinth within the lid. This trend originated in Germany. The aftermarket can be expected to follow within a year or so. Sealed and tip-tilt lids are a consequence of the trend for greater safety and, in particular, the need to prevent access to the acid within a battery. Following the unsuccessful launch of VRLA [valve regulated lead acid batteries] into the OE market a few years ago, a second wave is now underway in companies such as Daimler-Chrysler and Citroen with its recently-launched C3. The Citroen C3 is the first of the long-heralded stop-start cars, in which the engine stops whenever the car stops, leaving the battery to power all the electrical system. This regime will increase the cycling loads on the battery, a demand which VRLA technology is best suited to supply. The drive for fewer emissions, associated with the need for better fuel-consumption, has clearly resulted in the move to stop-start cars.”

Austria’s Banner GmbH also sees the battery business moving toward calcium-calcium technology, particularly for cars introduced from 1997 onwards. Andreas Sperl, marketing manager, Banner GmbH, said: “These vehicles typically require modern charge management, higher voltage and maintenance free batteries. Given that batteries are often situated in places where the driver cannot see it — let alone the brand name — the battery must be maintenance free, leak proof and spill proof.”

On the aftermarket side of the automotive starter battery business, the market is shaped by a number of factors. “The car parc is increasing,” added Dempwolffe. “Secondly, the product is improving so the life of product is longer. And the electrical systems – which in the end determines the life of the battery – if you have a good charging system in your car, then this extends the life of the battery. On the other hand, the power consumption is increasing which is minimising the battery life. But overall, we see that the battery is extending its life and the market is stable and slightly shrinking. This of course is another challenge, especially for smaller producers. We believe that there is a slight shrinkage of the market year-on-year.”

According to industry sources, an OE vehicle starter battery for a passenger car should last around six years. That’s up from three or four years in the early 1990s. The useful life of a replacement battery may be a little less, perhaps around five years. For a commercial vehicle and motorcycle, manufacturers estimate the useful life of a battery is three or four years,

“Due to Europe’s congested cities, a lot of cars are now traveling in stop and go traffic, adding wear on the battery,” added Sperl. “The sheer heat generated under the bonnet due to an overcrowded engine compartment and the fact that batteries are located close to the engine block means that batteries are just as likely to fail in the summer as in the winter. Ten years ago, we would have said our battery aftermarket business was seasonal. But now it’s an all year round business.”

The power of brands appears to be diminishing in Europe, depending on the target segment. As far as the UK is concerned, that may relate to the fact that all the major battery manufacturers no longer produce batteries in Britain, as Paul Matarewicz, Managing Director for Varta Automotive Batterie, said: “It was driven by people who actually made batteries in the UK. As they have shut down and pulled out, they have been replaced by imported products from the Far East, South Africa and Brazil. These products are coming in without a label on and therefore you get a huge number of no-name products flooding the UK market. In the early 1990s, the UK aftermarket was about 60% branded. If you go back to the early 1980s, it was more like 90% branded. So there has been a very steady decline in brand.”

Another major issue facing the industry is the escalating price of lead. Given that lead typically accounts for 40% of manufacturing costs, any severe oscillations in price can have serious consequences. But producers can’t chop and change their strategy every time the price of lead moves. While some producers use an array of measures to manage price movements such as hedging and improving their spent battery collection rates, surely the key is to negotiate with the OEMs to assist them in absorbing the lead price increases. Put simply, battery producers can’t absorb a 100% increase in price in 40% of raw material costs. Otherwise, we shall see yet more consolidation ahead.

Although lead-acid starter batteries may not appear to have changed over the last four decades, internally, technological advances have been made to ensure that they keep up with modern demands. Lead-acid batteries will continue to start cars for many years, but the search continues for lighter, more efficient and cleaner replacements.