ShareThis Page

Steel beats aluminum

| Friday, Jan. 27, 2012

The Bloomberg News story " Rules for more efficient cars could make aluminum golden " (Jan. 1 and contains inaccuracies. In the mid-'90s, the government's Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles project ignited discussions of steel being replaced by aluminum. Meanwhile, the first generation of advanced high-strength steels was introduced. Stronger and more formable, they replaced traditional steel, rendering aluminum's desire to dominate vehicle bodies wishful thinking.

Experts confirm today's third generation of advanced high-strength steels puts steel and aluminum structures on par concerning weight. Analyst Lloyd O'Carroll's suggestion that "a pound of aluminum can replace 2.5 to 3 pounds of steel" in 2012 is just plain wrong.

The story correctly notes that aluminum is three times as expensive as steel and that for aluminum to reach 20 percent in the average car, sales of an additional 5.3 million tons of it would be required. According to the Aluminum Association, producing 5.3 million tons would result in approximately 58 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. By comparison, producing 5.3 million tons of steel would result in about 11 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions.

Aluminum's higher cost, much higher emissions and comparable weight explain why, in future vehicles, steel will be replaced by steel, as it was in 1996 -- applying the latest advanced technologies that make it the most lightweight, green and cost-effective material.

Lawrence W. Kavanagh

The writer is president of the Steel Market Development Institute (

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.