#celebratechange – for two days, everything at the 2021 GREENTECH FESTIVAL in Berlin revolved around innovative technologies for a sustainable and climate-friendly way of life. And Audi once again participated in the GREENTECH FESTIVAL from June 16 to 18 as a founding partner, where the company demonstrated that its products, processes, and materials are all about combating climate change and promoting sustainability with the help of digitalization. For example, visitors learned how Audi is enabling the expansion of renewable energy sources, how its resource-friendly approach to plastics works, and the importance of artificial intelligence in the supply chain for its sustainability strategy. Nico Rosberg and the two engineers Marco Voigt and Sven Krüger are the founders of the GREENTECH FESTIVAL.
This year, the 2021 GREENTECH FESTIVAL was held as a hybrid event both live on site at Kraftwerk Berlin and digitally on visitors’ computers, laptops, and smartphones. The lineup included keynotes, panel discussions, boot camps, and deep dives. On June 17, Oliver Hoffmann, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi, offered insights as a keynote speaker into how Audi is promoting the expansion of renewable energy sources. Information on initiatives and projects aimed at increasing sustainability and combating climate change is still available online in the press kit at the Audi MediaCenter. For Henrik Wenders, Head of Audi Brand, the 2021 Greentech Festival was an outstanding opportunity to present innovative technologies and concepts in action to increase sustainability and combat climate change. “Last year, we showed how we want to minimize carbon emissions as much as possible in manufacturing and the supply chain; this year, we showed that Audi also has its eye on other products, processes, and materials. We are convinced that sustainable technologies will become the enabler of a livable future and the mobility of tomorrow. Sustainability is deeply ingrained in our mindset – and we want to actively shape it and inspire others to do so as well.” This is why Audi entered into a partnership with photographer and environmental activist Sebastian Copeland, whose images focus on the beauty of nature that is unquestionably worth protecting. Audi exhibited a selection of his images as part of its appearance at the trade show. In addition, the focus was on the following topics:
Partnership with energy providers: Audi funding expansion of renewable energy sources
Electric cars can be driven completely carbon neutral – as long as they are always charged with green power. Audi has set out to make this mathematically possible for all its electric cars and is backing the expansion of renewable energy sources in Europe. Together with several partners from the energy industry, the company plans to build new wind and solar farms on the European mainland by 2025 that will generate a total of around 5 terawatt hours – equivalent to the capacity of more than 250 wind turbines – of additional green electricity. The ultimate goal is to feed the same amount of green power into the grid that all the electric Audi cars on the road need to drive, on average. This will make Audi a provider of carbon-neutral mobility. Initially, Audi is partnering with the German energy supplier RWE. “We’re working hard to make carbon-neutral mobility possible. The expansion of renewable energy sources at an industrial scale is the next, logical step. Our first project, a massive solar park in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, will come on stream as early as 2022,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development.
A new lease on life: recycling automotive mixed plastics
Researchers from the “Industrial Resource Strategies” think tank at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have been working with Audi for a good six months on the “Chemical recycling of plastics from automotive manufacturing” pilot project. Now that the project has been completed, it is clear that the chemical recycling of mixed plastic waste is both technically and financially feasible. The recycled plastic waste can be processed into pyrolysis oil and can replace petroleum as a raw material used to manufacture high-quality plastic components such as fuel tanks, airbag covers, or radiator grilles in Audi models. The components made from pyrolysis oil have the same high quality as virgin materials. The material cycles closed in this way save energy and cut costs, since chemical recycling is significantly cheaper than the current thermal recycling process. At the same time, chemical recycling would help Audi optimize the procurement process, as more than half of the secondary raw material recovered can be returned to production.
URBANFILTER: filtering out microplastics where they are created
The Audi Environmental Foundation is involved in several projects to protect bodies of water. In the URBANFILTER project, it is developing optimized sediment filters for urban runoff in collaboration with the Technical University of Berlin. They trap microplastics in tire wear and other pollutant particles before they are flushed into sewers and waterways along with rainwater. A modular system consisting of nine different filter modules ensures that they achieve the best filtration results across a wide range of road and traffic conditions. Intelligently connecting data from various sources ensures that the filters are serviced and cleaned at the right time.
Collaboration with green start-ups: joint efforts for clean waters
Together with the green start-ups everwave and CLEAR RIVERS, the Audi Environmental Foundation is working to rid rivers and oceans of plastic waste. During a river cleanup conducted by everwave, the Audi Environmental Foundation, and cosmetics manufacturer BABOR, around 3,200 kilograms of plastic alone were fished out of the Danube over the course of ten days in April. With its non-profit partner CLEAR RIVERS, the Audi Environmental Foundation is also installing litter traps to prevent plastic waste from washing into the sea. It is then processed into floating pontoons, some of which are covered with plants and some of which are used as publicly accessible recreational areas for local residents.
Supply chain monitoring: Audi uses artificial intelligence (AI) for sustainability
The automotive manufacturing supply chain is complex. Since October 2020, intelligent algorithms have therefore been analyzing news about suppliers from publicly available online media sources and social networks as part of a pilot project being conducted by Audi in around 150 countries worldwide. This analysis encompasses sustainability risks such as environmental pollution, human rights violations, and corruption. If the AI finds them, it sounds the alarm. But the main advantage of the AI used by Audi is the speed at which it recognizes relevant information online and transmits it in packaged form. Those responsible at the automaker then examine the situation in more detail and take appropriate action, if necessary.
ecomove app: playfully reduce your carbon footprint
A new digital application from the Audi Denkwerkstatt is all about sustainable mobility. The ecomove app helps users understand and reduce their personal carbon footprint resulting from mobility as well as offset unavoidable emissions. The Audi Denkwerkstatt, an innovation unit of AUDI AG in Berlin, came up with the idea for the app. The app automatically recognizes, for example, which means of transportation users are currently using and calculates a personal mobility score. To improve this score, ecomove playfully motivates users to make their mobility more sustainable. Rewards in the form of trophies are used to encourage users to make positive changes in their behavior. In addition, users can offset remaining emissions through the app.