One emissions-cutting solution cited in the U.S. EPA’s Phase 2 Truck GHG rules officially released last week is to promote aluminum components including wheels and extrusions to be part of the strategy to cut overall weight from commercial vehicles.
The agencies’ Phase 2 rule requires trucking efficiencies to improve up to 25 percent by 2027 in an effort to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Research conducted by Ricardo Consulting Engineers suggests an “aluminum-intensive” Class 8 commercial tractor-trailer could reduce vehicle weight by 3,300 pounds. For every 10 percent of weight reduction, the group says up to a 5.5 percent improvement in fuel economy is possible.
The study also found that outfitting America’s fleet of Class 8 tractor-trailers with aluminum-intensive models would save 9.3 million tons of CO2 annually, almost 1 percent of Phase 2’s approximately 1.1 billion ton target.
“We’re pleased that the agencies recognized the contribution that aluminum – along with other lightweight material solutions – can play in helping OEMs meet the ambitious new targets set out in the rule,” says Curt Wells, director of regulatory affairs at the Aluminum Association.
The use of Aluminum isn’t new to trucking, however. As CCJ magazine points out, many truck OEMs offer all-aluminum cabs.
Metallic substitutions may find the most traction in truck wheels, where a conversion to aluminum is already underway and many suppliers continue working on making steel wheels even lighter.