ZKW develops climate-neutral electronic and electrical components for Polestar
New materials and processes
Modern headlights are made up of many different components, including various plastics and electronics. For sustainable production, the share of plastics must be reduced on the one hand, for example by using bio-based or recycled materials. An analysis by ZKW has shown that electronics is a key factor for climate-neutral headlights. Here, harmful emissions can be avoided in printed circuit boards – for example, through new materials and optimization of process technology – but also by switching to CO2-neutral electronic components and in assembly (for example, through energy-optimized equipment and green energy).
Alternative Manufacturing Concepts
Making electronic and electrical components carbon neutral requires more than new materials and process technologies. So-called “carbon capture” in the manufacturing process, waste prevention and recycling also enable CO2-neutral production. Even the reuse of repaired headlights is possible. “Where emissions cannot be avoided, alternatives must be found. For example, a connector housing could be made from biogenic raw materials, or it could be eliminated using other connection methods, such as plug-in or printed-edge connectors,” says Olivier Schubert.
Industrial research project
With the “SusMat4CarLight” project funded by the Austrian research promotion agency FFG, ZKW in Wieselburg is conducting research on the topic of sustainable and recyclable composite materials for future car headlights. The whole supply chain must be included and compensation through CO2 certificates must be abolished. Among other things, the project deals with new high-performance materials, the integration of different technologies into value chains, innovative surfaces and processes and application-optimized material processing. The partners of the research project are Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft, the Materials Institute for Surface Technologies and Photonics and the University of Leoben. “We are exploring all possible potentials of the circular economy in order to achieve our goal of CO2-neutral production by 2025,” says Schubert.
Concept of sustainability
In its concept of sustainability, which includes production, product and people, ZKW focuses on energy efficiency and the purchase of renewable energies such as green electricity and the prevention of waste in production. Sustainable investments, such as the excellent construction of the plant at the Slovakian site in Krušovce, are another important part of the concept. The company also promotes employee commitment to environmental protection and sustainability with the “Global Sustainability Ideas Challenge”. The next step is to make all ZKW products CO2-neutral by 2038. In addition to CO2-free production at all sites, this plan also includes upstream supply chains.
Reduction of emissions
In Wieselburg and Wiener Neustadt, ZKW relies on heat recovery, efficient cooling or heating and waste prevention by optimizing consumption to avoid CO2. The greatest potential for savings lies in the use of electricity. The Wieselburg site covers part of its energy needs from its own hydroelectric power station and the rest from the public grid – since the beginning of 2022 in the form of green electricity. The ZKW sites in Wiener Neustadt, Haag and Dietach are also to become CO2 neutral. On the international sites, it is planned for the moment to buy green electricity certificates.
ZKW in brief
The ZKW Group is the specialist for innovative high-end lighting systems and electronics. As a system supplier, ZKW is a global partner of the automotive industry. In line with its motto “Bright Minds, Bright Lights.”, the group develops and produces complex lighting systems and high-end electronic modules for international car manufacturers with bright minds and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Its flagship products include powerful and economical complete LED systems. The ZKW Group has a total of twelve sites worldwide, intelligently interconnected in the areas of development and production. In 2021, the Group employed approximately 10,000 people and achieved total revenue of approximately €1.07 billion.
In line with the corporate vision “Pioneers of ZKW’s high-end lighting and electronic systems for all mobility concepts in the global automotive industry”, the main focus of the company is to manufacture products technology of the highest quality and to stimulate the development of innovative total lighting systems. .
With inventions and innovations, the ZKW group of companies makes motor vehicles more attractive, individual, safe and energy efficient. The 360 degree range includes main and fog lights, taillights, indicators, interior and license plate lights and electronic modules. Well-known car manufacturers and their brands rely on innovative products. ZKW is proud of its customers such as BMW (BMW, Rolls Royce), DAIMLER (MERCEDES-BENZ Cars and Trucks), FORD (Lincoln, Ford), GEELY (Volvo, Polestar, Lynk & Co; Geely), GENERAL MOTORS (Buick , Chevrolet, Cadillac), Hyundai (Kia), JLR (Jaguar, Land Rover), Stellantis (Opel, Citroën), RENAULT/NISSAN (Infiniti, Alpine), VGTT (Volvo Trucks, MACK) and VW (Audi, Porsche, Skoda , Lamborghini, MAN, VW, Seat). With intelligent lighting systems and innovative styling, ZKW shapes the look and character of vehicles around the world.
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