EPA Accepts Aluminum in Automobiles

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It’s possible you didn’t even realize it was missing, but the news is official: Aluminum’s back. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now amending a clear water regulation, the F019 hazardous waste listing, which previously restricted the use of aluminum in automobiles. It’s been decided that cuts in carbon emissions are worth possible water contamination from the manufacturing process, although some consumers are still skeptic. Either way, this new legislation should lead to widespread use of the metal in the automobile industry. In fact, Forbes shares that the 2008 Ford Focus is already replacing steel with high-strength aluminum in front-brake calipers.

According to Forbes, “Congress’ recent decision to raise fuel efficiency requirements has intensified the auto industry’s interest in lightweight materials. Aluminum could reduce the weight of cars dramatically because it weighs roughly half as much as steel. Every 10% reduction in car weight results in a 6% to 8% decrease in gasoline consumption … Since 1997, the EPA has granted a dozen exemptions to the rule for specific auto manufacturing facilities across the U.S. Last week’s decision could trump those increases by an order of magnitude.”

At MetalMiner, we’re wondering how this could alter aluminum prices, which have already contested expectations to increase 25 percent since January. Although some forecasters still expect aluminum prices to fall, with the volatile market ahead of us and automobile manufacturers set to purchase more aluminum than ever, we really can’t be certain.

–Amy Edwards

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