Written by TreeHugger.com
One of the best way to make vehicles more energy efficient—whether they run on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, or electricity—is to make them lighter. Aluminum is often used to do that because it can be as strong or stronger than steel, but weighs a lot less. Initially, aluminum was mostly found in high-end models, like the Audi A8, but recently more of it has started to pop up in mass-market models, like the 2015 Ford F150 truck that will be mostly made of aluminum, reducing weight by 700 pounds compared to the previous model.
So, are aluminum cars really better for the environment? Many people are still skeptical. But Oak Ridge National Labs has looked into the matter and seems to confirm that they are.
Oak Ridge National Labs basically compared the whole life cycle of three different versions of the same vehicle: a normal, baseline vehicle; a lightweight, steel vehicle; and an aluminum-intensive vehicle. Their findings are that aluminum is absolutely worth it, with an energy break-even distance for their test vehicle of just 12,000 miles. That's an energy payback of just one year for the average person, and after that all energy savings are 100 percent net gains over a traditional, steel-based vehicle. Read more at Auto Body News!