Participating in this year’s SAE Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress & Exhibition, Todd Summe, Division Manager, Product Design & Development, Alcoa Inc., discussed the fuel economy and emissions benefits of using advanced aluminum applications in manufacturing commercial vehicles. Summe, in his capacity representing The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group, participated in a panel discussion on sustainability issues.
“With many challenges facing the commercial vehicle industry, including concern over greenhouse gas emissions, fuel costs and federal mandates that add weight to vehicles, high strength, yet low weight aluminum offers real-world solutions today,” said Summe. “Aluminum offers a 40-50 percent weight savings over steel. Fleet and owner operators want increased payload, better fuel economy and reduced emissions, which aluminum delivers on all fronts.”
In his presentation, Summe noted that, according to IFEU Heidelberg research findings, aluminum use in cars globally already saves 300 million tons of CO2 emissions and 35 billion gallons of gasoline annually. He noted that “by sharing lessons learned regarding the use of light weight materials – like aluminum – the auto and commercial vehicle industries can increase the improvements in fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission reductions without sacrificing safety and performance.”
In fact, research shows a one-ton weight reduction in a Class 8 tractor-trailer (depending on load) can save up to 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year.
“The use of aluminum opens an opportunity for the trucking industry to increase fuel efficiency and payload capacity, decrease operating costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide many other advantages for these vehicles,” said Summe.
Additional highlights from Summe’s presentation include:
- Real-world testing of a bus fleet in China indicates a 3,000-pound weight reduction achieved through an aluminum spaceframe body, forged aluminum wheels and aluminum skin (approximately 46 percent lighter than the same bus body made with steel) equals a 6-8 percent fuel economy improvement.
- On average, aluminum can save 18 tons of CO2 for every ton of aluminum added to a commercial vehicle fleet.
- An aluminum wheel can improve tire rolling resistance by up to 3 percent over a comparable size steel wheel.
- Use of aluminum alloy wheels on a tractor can save 30 pounds, each for a total savings of 300 pounds.
- Aluminum provides increased value and mileage when matched with hybrid and diesel-powered vehicles, compared to steel bodied vehicles.
For a copy of the presentation, visit www.autoaluminum.org.