From Boosting Gas Mileage to Fighting Global Warming, College Engineers Demonstrate Auto Aluminum's Performance Advantages
WASHINGTON, June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Against the backdrop of rising gas prices and continued focus on global warming, automakers today are working to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while also maintaining the vehicle size that consumers demand for both safety and convenience. Working to address such real-world issues, teams of college students recently rose to that challenge in a competition to redesign and modify sport-utility vehicles for maximum fuel efficiency and lower emissions. As part of the 2001 FutureTruck Challenge, in a competition against 14 other top engineering schools from North America, students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison won the Innovations in Aluminum design award. FutureTruck is a cooperative effort among auto industry, government and academia to solve vehicle environmental and energy related issues. The Aluminum Association, Inc. is a FutureTruck sponsor and bestows the Innovations in Aluminum awards to teams that make best use of the metal to enhance vehicle environmental performance. The University of Wisconsin-Madison team converted their Chevy Suburban SUV into a diesel-electric hybrid, which used a lightweight, yet-high strength, aluminum underbody frame (and other aluminum components) to offset the added weight from the hybrid technology. The result is a Chevy Suburban that gets approximately 28 miles per gallon (up from approximately 17 miles per gallon), and it weighs about 500 pounds less than the production model -- all the more dramatic, considering the added weight produced from the heavy batteries and electric motors employed in the modified Suburban. In part due to its lighter weight and improved fuel economy, the Wisconsin team's Suburban also emitted the least carbon dioxide from the tailpipe -- such emissions are thought to contribute to global warming. "This competition shows, once again, that the use of advanced powertrain technologies requires safe, efficient and low weight materials to offset the added weight that goes with either gas/diesel-electric hybrid or fuel cell technologies -- and aluminum's performance advantages make it the clear material of choice. The Wisconsin students have shown that reducing vehicle weight with aluminum is a highly effective way to boost fuel economy and cut emissions, especially in SUVs," said Dr. Richard Klimisch, Vice President, Auto and Light Truck Group, The Aluminum Association, speaking yesterday in Washington, DC, where the competition's finalists gathered to display their vehicles. The Georgia Institute of Technology earned second place in the Innovations in Aluminum design for highlighting the benefits, versatility and ease of replacing traditional components with aluminum. The Georgia Tech students replaced their Suburban's engine with a Vortec 4,200 aluminum engine and converted a number of other components to aluminum, as well. Overall, the use of aluminum by the student teams to improve environmental performance reflects real-world trends. Aluminum use doubled in autos over the past decade (and tripled in the lucrative light truck market), and it recently passed plastic in terms of overall vehicle content. GM recently announced that all of its V8 light truck engines will switch from iron to aluminum and, combined with new "displacement-on-demand" technology, it will help boost fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent. Ford has also committed to increasing the fuel economy of its light trucks and within most leading car companies, aluminum will undoubtedly have an even greater role in the future. Aluminum played a significant role in the FutureTruck competition, due to its many environmental performance advantages, including: * A six to eight percent fuel savings can be realized for every 10 percent weight reduction by substituting aluminum for much heavier steel. * Each pound of aluminum replacing two pounds of steel can save a net 20 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents over the typical lifetime of a vehicle. * Nearly 90 percent of automotive aluminum is currently recovered and recycled. Klimisch concluded, "The college engineering students' use of aluminum in this competition mirrors aluminum's growing use by the auto industry. As automakers pursue even more advanced and environmentally friendly vehicles, aluminum's phenomenal growth should continue to climb. This is good news for both automakers and consumers alike because automotive aluminum is the performance advantage." A proud sponsor of FutureTruck, The Aluminum Association, based in Washington, D.C., with offices in Detroit, Mich., represents primary producers of aluminum, recyclers and producers of semi-fabricated products. Member companies operate almost 200 plants in 37 states. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X41947532
SOURCE Aluminum Association
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