The recent Automotive News Green Car Conference held at The Diamond Center at Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Michigan, stressed on the fast pace of gas cost and on the decrease of vehicles' carbon footprints. Major automotive issues related to lower emissions, fuel saving, enhanced safety or higher degrees of recyclability got a single answer that would solve them all: aluminum. This has been backed up by 30 years of continuously increased usage as a replacement for steel and iron.
According to Alcoa Technology Center's director of development, Dr. Rick Winter, during these years, the content of aluminum in the North American automotive industry has grown by more than three times. This, he says, is due to the material's driving performance, safety and environmental enhancements, which make it a clear option for the future. Alcoa, regarded as the world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, has successfully set an example by reducing their own greenhouse emissions by a third since the '90s.
“As the auto industry strives to meet increased CAFE [United States' Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations] between now and 2020, aluminum can help achieve a lighter vehicle without sacrifice to safety, power or performance,” shared Winter
. “Since 1990, increased use of aluminum in the world's vehicles has avoided burning 84 billion liters of gasoline and more than one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it is projected that the growing use of aluminum in the transportation market will help make the aluminum industry greenhouse gas neutral by 2025.”
If you're wondering how aluminum could possibly save the environment, think of the fact that a more lightweight vehicle doesn't need that much fuel to achieve the same performances as a heavier one, which also translates into a substantial decrease of the CO2 amount the vehicle emits, even after including the amounts of carbon dioxide generated during the manufacturing process of aluminum. Also, recycling aluminum only takes 5% of the energy of producing it, which provides new insight on recycling cars.