When most people think of aluminum, they probably think of the nickels they get when they turn in the lightweight cans that are thrown in their recycling bin weekly. However, not many people would even stop to consider the use of aluminum in car manufacturing or how it could be the future of the auto industry as we know it.
Despite it seeming outlandish to anyone who’s ever crushed a can with their bare hands, many scientists and giants in the auto industry believe that this lightweight material could be the key to lighter cars and lighter carbon footprints in return. With this said, it is fairly clear that aluminum is changing the automotive game, and it’s about time we pay attention. In fact, according to a recent study, it is estimated that, by 2025, cars will be comprised of roughly 550 pounds of aluminum, which would inevitably reduce vehicle weight by at least 10 percent.
However, despite the clear benefits in weight reduction alone, many big names in the green business industry are more interested in what the use of aluminum in car manufacturing could mean for our world and the environment cars are known to be a main pollution source within. So, the main questions we must ask ourselves as the auto industry pushes forward with the implementation of aluminum in manufacturing are simply, “Why aluminum?” and “How will this affect our environment compared to past materials used in manufacturing?” After all, in a society that prides itself on advancements and progress, perhaps “lifting some of that weight” off the auto industry’s carbon footprint can help us to “take a step back” from our current environmental crisis and enter the future of green technology today.
Now, you still may be asking yourself why aluminum is optimum and what exactly it can do for car efficiency and our environment. The main ways that aluminum helps our environment are through fuel economy, machinability, corrosion resistance, and the ease with which it can be recycled.
By being so lightweight, aluminum can reduce the weight of the vehicle and, in turn, improve its fuel economy. Not only is this effective for the owner of the vehicle who would ultimately save hundreds on gas yearly, but it is also effective in relations to our environment as less CO2 emissions would be created by these vehicles that would need less gas yearly than ever before.
As for the machinability of aluminum, the fact that this metal is so malleable means that it can be manipulated easily into any shape or form which makes it easy to create any car on the current market. This means that modern manufacturers will ultimately have the opportunity to utilize aluminum in the near future for any and all cars, trucks, and various other vehicles. The most promising, however, comes in the form of electric cars now being even more efficient. In fact, a recent breakthrough has been made in aluminum’s use in electric cars through the invention of aluminum-air battery. When the aluminum-air battery was tested, it was proven that this innovative device would allow the electric car to travel 1,000 miles gas-free. This means that not only will gas-powered cars be more efficient and leave a lighter footprint, but eco-friendly cars will become an even more viable option as well.
When it comes to steel auto bodies, it is quite common to face rust and erosion in a far more rapid manner than with aluminum. This is because of the fact that steel is fairly sensitive to moisture and air, whereas aluminum has a certain amount of corrosion resistance — even without extra surface treatment. This ultimately means that aluminum cars also will last longer which, in turn, leads to less auto bodies rotting away in junkyards and less metal pollution in our soil.
Finally, the most promising aspect of all is aluminum’s ability to be recycled with ease. Because of the fact that aluminum is so easy to recycle once again due to its malleability, this means that these cars could easily be taken at their end of life and transformed into cubes which could then be sent back to manufacturers to create cars once more with. In turn, this could mean that, in time, we could have cars that will never add to the metal pollution of our soil, as they would never sit in a junkyard to begin with.
In the end, the possibilities with aluminum in the automotive industry are endless, and the ability to utilize this amazingly eco-friendly material in our everyday lives is one giant leap in the right direction towards a far smaller carbon footprint and a much more cost-efficient industry overall.