Light-weighting, made possible by technology and new-age materials, is an effective way to reduce energy consumption and improve performance.
This concept has been well accepted and implemented in many industries, particularly in electric vehicles, aircraft or aerospace components, and system design. For a variety of reasons, being lighter is preferable in many applications. The less energy used in manufacturing, the more environmentally friendly the product. The lighter the product, the less fuel it requires for transportation, lowering costs for both manufacturers and consumers. Lightweighting is critical in making vehicles safer and reducing emissions.

Material Selection

As global environmental legislation is developed, any metal that allows for light-weighting has become a critical component in industries such as automotive and aviation-aerospace. Manufacturers in these sectors have been looking at lighter yet stronger products as country after country begins to commit to reducing their carbon footprint and emission levels. Vehicle efficiency research and development efforts are ongoing in order to improve vehicle safety, performance standards, and resistance to natural damage such as corrosion. Aluminium meets this industry aspiration and positions itself as the metal of choice. Aluminium is recognised as a metal of the present and future as the world prepares for a cleaner tomorrow. Lightweighting has become a critical requirement for the transport and mobility sector, both in road transport, where electric vehicles are emerging as the next big thing and in aviation and aerospace applications. The traditional method of reducing vehicle weight in the automotive industry has been downsizing. The weight of vehicles has decreased dramatically over the last two decades.

Aluminium is now the second most commonly used material by automakers worldwide. According to European Aluminium Association research, aluminium applications can help reduce vehicle weight by up to 40% while maintaining vehicle safety. It has also been established that light-weighting applications using an aluminium can save 4.3 more kilometres per litre, or approximately 10% more in fuel economy. Overall, aluminium car components are anywhere from 10% to 40% lighter than traditional materials.

Mr. Deepak Mathur, Sr. Vice President, Global Marketing and Sales at Jindal Aluminium Limited

In India, light-weighting is at a critical juncture in order to meet the government’s challenges. The government’s vision is to electrify 100 percent of public transportation and 40 percent of personal mobility by 2030. As Battery Electric Vehicles are hailed as the future of the passenger vehicle, the question of how much light-weighting will be required arises. Being heavy on weight is a detriment to an automobile’s overall safety profile, particularly for an electric vehicle. The range and performance of an electric vehicle are primarily determined by its weight. In this context, aluminium alloys have assisted vehicles in increasing range and load capacity, reducing buyer range anxiety.

Aviation and aerospace are two other areas where light-weighting capabilities are highly sought after. The future and development of new generation aluminium alloys are dependent on innovation, and it is innovation using aluminium that has resulted in safer and more reliable flights. Aluminium alloys have lowered aircraft manufacturing costs by improving fuel efficiency and handling.

The results are visible as manufacturers take on the challenge, update their designs, streamline production, and factor in maintenance and repair processes in aviation and aerospace. Lightweighting a Boeing 787, a new-generation aircraft, resulted in a 20% weight savings and a 10-12% improvement in fuel efficiency. Aside from lowering the carbon footprint, improved in-flight performance parameters such as better acceleration, increased structural strength and stiffness, and superior safety performance could also be achieved lightweight design. It offers numerous advantages that are likely to continue to precipitate the increased lightweight metal and other material use.

Aside from Lightweighting

A lightweight design principle is to use less material with a lower density while maintaining or improving technical performance. When aluminium is used, it is used for more than just its light weight; it is a highly versatile metal with many advantages. Aluminium is also known for its flexibility, high strength-to-weight ratio, and ability to be resilient and ductile at low temperatures. Being the preferred engineering material for a variety of applications comes almost naturally. Another significant advantage of this metal is that when exposed to air, a thin oxidised film forms on its surface, protecting it from corrosion. In the future, efforts to reduce weight through the use of aluminium alloys will only increase. Lightweight vehicles and new-generation aircraft will continue to provide a practical solution for lower fuel costs and CO2 emissions. With international commitments to reduce CO2 emissions only growing, the use of a researched material like aluminium is set to further demonstrate that it is the best ingredient for a variety of industries in the future.

Also read, Downstream Aluminium: Meeting The EV Demand



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