Today, especially in the automotive sector, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and bio-fuels are often mentioned. But it will take a certain time for them to fully enter the daily life of the consumers. However, for R & D engineers, there is an indispensable method of saving fuel and reducing harmful emission gases: besides the design itself, the materials used are also at the forefront in decreasing the weight and reducing the weight of the vehicles. In this process Aluminum alloys make a great contribution.
Because aluminum is lighter, it allows automakers to increase dent resistance—they can make body panels thicker while still lowering weight. And a lower weight vehicle has better acceleration, better braking and better handling. In addition, lighter vehicles can haul and tow more because the engine isn’t carrying unneeded weight.
When applied to an optimized automotive body structure, aluminum can provide a weight savings of up to 50 percent compared with the traditional mild steel structure. Aluminum body structures are equal or superior in strength to steel and absorb twice as much crash-induced energy. Primary-structure weight savings also allow other vehicle systems to be downsized (including the engine, transmission, suspension and wheels). Across the board, in weight, strength and safety, aluminum’s advantages are clear.
Nearly 90 percent of automotive aluminum scrap—more than a half-million tons a year—is recovered and recycled. To place this in perspective: Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves the energy equivalent of 21 barrels of oil. The environmental wins continue: A peer-reviewed study by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in total life cycle energy consumption and up to a 17 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.