Thanks to Carlos Carvalheiro-Nunes, President and CEO of Aurora Industrial Machines, for providing insights into his organization’s sustainability journey.
Aurora Industrial Machines is advancing a new class of electric machines capable of features not currently available in the electric motor and generator markets. Independent torque and speed characteristics, instant switching from motor to generator, high efficiency, outstanding durability, built-in fault tolerance, and axial motion in motoring or generating mode.
What got your organization thinking about sustainability?
Design is the first signal of human intention, if our intention is to improve the world around us we need to infuse our designs with inherent intelligence. We like to think in terms of first principles, cause and effect.
Sustainability to Aurora is the elegant enjoyment of the technical nutrients that are abundant around the world with the design intention of eliminating any potential cross contamination with biological nutrients. In other words the word or concept of trash is thrown away.
Reverse logistics may be a new word for some but will, in the not too distant future, be the gold standard for technical nutrient renewal.
How did you decide what was most important to tackle first?
We looked at our current design and decided to tackle the things we could take immediate control and ownership of, being a small startup meant taking realistic small steps in the right direction, realizing full well that a cradle to cradle approach is a marathon and not a race. We started by taking an inventory of the technical nutrients that we have embedded in our design aluminum, copper, silicon steel, gold within our pcb’s (printed circuit boards) and plastics.
We decided that the first technical nutrient we could take immediate control of was the plastic that we use within the core of our machine, we needed an engineered plastic that could withstand high heat and stress (compression & tension). So we needed a high strength solution that could handle high temperature but was yet fully biodegradable and a post-consumer product that could be ethically, ecologically, economically and renewably sourced from like-minded suppliers.
We took inventory of what was currently available in the market, and quickly realized that many suppliers sourced their PLA (poly lactic acid) or PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) from virgin oil based plastics. In fact 1kg of PLA or PETG is the equivalent of 1.5 Barrels of oil.
We scoured the globe trying to find anyone that might have a solution and we found it with Reflowfilament a Dutch company that directly recycles intended ocean plastic PET Polyethylene tetra phthalate into 3D Printable filament for prototype manufacturing.
We can now say that some technical nutrients of our machine were mined from post-consumer plastic destined for the ocean and is now being repurposed.
We absolutely love the new PETG formula that they have created and especially love the fact that we are doing a small part to remove plastic from the ocean.
These Two spools are the equivalent of 158 bottles of waste plastic and for comparison is the equivalent of 3 Barrels of Oil averted.
What do you hope to achieve by making your business more sustainable?
Our design intent is to demonstrate that a cradle to cradle approach is both ethically, ecologically and economically a sound business decision. Doing good for the environment is good for business.
What are your next steps and goals?
Aurora Industrial Machines Inc. (AIM) is actively engaged with www.c2ccertified.org to achieve our first c2c certification within the new Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Version 4 Standard. In fact AIM was just green lighted to start the c2c certification program into the program and is currently in the evaluation stage.
Our goal is to achieve a certification acceptance at the Basic level (Level 1) that is determined based on our current objectives. As I said this is a marathon of constant iteration and improvement. As time goes by we will continue to improve upon the product as more suppliers become available, we will endeavour to one day have through reverse logistics a product that is 100% renewable sources of technical nutrients.
If you had any tips or advice to give a business starting out, what would it be?
The first step is to educate yourself & your staff and especially your suppliers on what your design intentions are, demand that your suppliers provide data down to the PPM (parts per million) of what actually goes into the products they supply you, if they are not willing to give you that information, find a new supplier that will, they are out there if you are willing to do your research you will find them.
Our inspiration is William McDonough! No one man has had a more impactful contribution to the circular economy then the man who invented “Cradle to Cradle” 20 years ago,