Standard: AA - T12

USE OF ALUMINUM IN AUTOMOBILES - EFFECT ON THE ENERGY DILEMMA

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Scope:

From 1967 to 1974 cars increased in weight for a variety of safety, comfort and pollution control reasons. economy suffered accordingly. Since 1974 auto manufacturers have done an outstanding job of improving MPG. Even so, there is a lot yet to be done to the 1985 corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) goal of 27.5 miles per gallon as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

Because there is a direct correlation between vehicle weight and gas mileage (EPA figures for 1979 cars show that fuel economy improves in lighter weight classes) weight reduction is an attractive means of increasing gasoline mileage.

Weight reduction by using aluminum is an especially attractive alternative because it can often be accomplished at low capital costs without compromising comfort (size) and safety features mandated by law or desired by the buyer.

Further, the car buyer of tomorrow is expected to attach great importance to the effect of weight savings on fuel economy and to evaluate his investment on a per mile basis. The use of aluminum is important in both aspects because it not only increases fuel economy, but also may be used to extend the useful life of a car because of its durability.

If we are to come to grips with our energy dilemma, it seems apparent that we will have to make more efficient use of gasoline in our automobiles. Today, cars use over 25 percent of the U.S. annual petroleum supply and account for more than 13 percent of all our nation's energy consumption.

Aluminum, with a proven track record in weight reduction in automobiles and all other transportation vehicles over the years, continues to offer an ideal solution to auto weight problems.

The use of a single pound of aluminum in an auto part produces an immediate primary (direct) weight saving of 1.5 pounds on the average when substituted for traditional ferrous automotive materials.

In addition, this weight saving encourages redesign, allowing use of lighter supporting structure and reduced power requirement for comparable performance, saving at least an additional 50 percent of the direct or primary weight savings in the form of secondary savings.

Thus, a single pound of aluminum can reduce car weight by at least 2.25 pounds (1.5 pounds direct plus 0.75 pounds indirect). Since about 118 pounds of aluminum are used in the average 1979 model car, this has already cut car weight by as much as 265 pounds. This weight reduction translates into a savings of over 290 gallons of gasoline for the operator over the 100,000 mile lifetime of his or her car.

Put another way, each pound of aluminum used in a car could save the owner at least 2.5 gallons of gasoline over its lifetime. This works out to a total of about 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline that could be saved through use of aluminum in 1979 U.S. model automobiles.

If the average aluminum content were to be increased to 200 pounds per car for 1985 models, the total gasoline savings from the 450 pounds minimum weight reduction would approximately be 500 gallons of gasoline for each car over its useful life.

Aluminum in cars is also effective on a lifetime energy basis. Gasoline energy savings resulting from the use of aluminum in place of steel or iron are much larger than the energy required to manufacture aluminum.

Total lifetime energy (all energy used to produce a component and to transport it during a car's lifetime) is less than half the energy for a corresponding steel part, about one-fourth the lifetime total for a cast iron part, and equal to or less than the energy requirement for a plastic part.

Additionally, aluminum components can be easily recycled into new parts, which will allow even greater lifetime energy savings than realized at present. Recycling aluminum saves 95 per cent of the energy needed to make new metal from ore.

Organization: The Aluminum Association Inc.
Document Number: t12
Publish Date: 1980-01-01
Page Count: 24
Available Languages: EN
DOD Adopted: NO
ANSI Approved: NO
Most Recent Revision: YES
Current Version: YES
Status: Inactive
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