Aluminum has been found to offer significant benefits to the automotive industry, particularly in the production of electric vehicles (EVs). According to recent research by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Department of Energy and Magna, recycled aluminum saves energy and boosts EV battery range to rev up a sustainable future.
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Department of Energy has teamed up with Magna, a leading mobile technology company, to unveil a groundbreaking manufacturing process.
This new process significantly reduces embodied energy and carbon dioxide emissions by eliminating the need to mine and refine raw aluminum ore, slashing over 50% of embodied energy and more than 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Shear Assisted Processing and Extrusion (ShAPE) process is a patented and award-winning technique that takes scrap bits and aluminum trimmings left over from automotive manufacturing and transforms them directly into suitable material for new vehicle parts.
The process is now being scaled to create lightweight aluminum parts for EVs, which can help extend their driving range.
The latest breakthrough, as detailed in a new report and a Manufacturing Letters research article, eliminates the need to add newly mined aluminum to the material before using it for new parts.
This new development could lead to a reduction in the overall cost of aluminum components, enabling manufacturers to replace steel with lightweight aluminum components.
The ShAPE process is a significant step forward in the production of sustainable and efficient vehicles. By reducing waste and emissions while making EVs more affordable and efficient, this manufacturing process promises to revolutionize the automotive industry.
The ShAPE process eliminates metal impurities in scrap without needing a heat treatment step, saving significant time and increasing efficiency. Magna, the largest North American auto parts manufacturer, collaborated on the research for four years, culminating in the report and research publications.
“Sustainability is a top priority at Magna,” says Massimo DiCiano, Manager of Materials Science. “ShAPE process demonstrates our commitment to developing new sustainable solutions for our customers.
Aluminum is one of the most widely used materials in the automotive industry after steel, thanks to its highly desirable properties. With its lightweight yet strong composition, aluminum has become a critical component in the ongoing effort to manufacture lightweight vehicles that are more fuel-efficient.
This not only helps to extend the range of electric vehicles but also reduces the size of their batteries, which ultimately translates to more eco-friendly transportation.
Despite the automotive industry’s efforts to recycle most of the aluminum it uses, a common practice involves mixing newly mined primary aluminum to dilute any impurities in the recycled material before reuse.
This dilution approach, while effective, can lead to a reduction in the quality of the recycled aluminum, which ultimately impacts the overall sustainability of the supply chain.
As recycled aluminum saves energy, emissions, and boosts EV battery range to rev up a sustainable future, the push towards environmentally friendly vehicles continues.
Efforts to increase the use of recycled aluminum in the automotive industry could play a critical role in reducing energy consumption, emissions, and overall costs while simultaneously promoting sustainability.