Aluminum in the Future of Cars and the Automotive Industry
Like composites, aluminum use is increasing in popularity, particularly within the automotive industry. Did you know that the car you drive to work every day is mostly made from two metals, steel and aluminum? Aluminum is second only to steel as the most widely used metal in the manufacture of automobiles. Manufacturers are increasing their use of aluminum as fuel efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions, and improved designs become more important.
Every kilogram of aluminum used in an automobile, in lieu of steel, reduces the overall weight of the vehicle by a kilogram. Because of the incredible weight savings aluminum provides, manufacturers now make engine radiators, engine cylinder blocks, transmission bodies, bumpers, and suspension parts from this malleable metal. Body parts, such as hoods, doors and even the vehicle frame, now contain aluminum.
Experts predict that automakers will continue to increase adoption of low weight, high-strength aluminum at a faster pace than at any time in history. In fact, the total aluminum content will likely jump from 397 pounds per vehicle in 2015 to an astounding 565 pounds per vehicle by the year 2028, when aluminum will account for about 16 percent of the vehicle total weight.
Aluminum is important to the automotive industry because of its weight, strength, flexibility, malleability, conductivity, reflectivity and resistance to corrosion. Aluminum is light, with about one-third the density of steel. Aluminum is also safer because, pound for pound, aluminum can absorb twice the crash energy as some steel.
Prior to being used in the manufacture of your automobile the aluminum goes through heat treatment processes. A couple of the common heat treatment processes used are aging and solution treating. These processes are performed in a horizontal quench system or drop bottom furnace, followed by an age oven to improve the strength, flexibility and durability of the aluminum. Stay tuned next month to learn more about the heat treatment of Aluminum Alloys used in your car.