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Alcoa Wheels Cut Carbon Footprint of Commercial Vehicles, Study Finds

Alcoa released a peer-reviewed life cycle assessment that concluded substituting steel truck wheels in commercial vehicles with the company’s aluminum ones substantially cut carbon emissions.

In North America, substituting 18 conventional steel truck wheels with Alcoa’s aluminum wheels cut emissions by 16.3 metric tons over the lifetime of the wheels. In Europe, replacing 12 steel wheels cut 13.3 metric tons of carbon emissions, the study found.

The study also found for volume restricted vehicles in North America, switching from steel to Alcoa’s forged aluminum truck wheels produces an average lifetime savings of more than 520 gallons of fuel. In Europe, the savings amounts to more than 1,942 liters, or 513 gallons.

The life cycle assessment, or LCA, analyzed the entire cradle-to-grave production process of commercial vehicle wheels—from bauxite mining to wheel manufacturing, through a truck wheel’s use phase and end-of-life, including recycling and land filling, Alcoa said. The study also used the latest information on energy material consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental releases.

Data for aluminum wheel production was taken from five Alcoa facilities in the US, Mexico, Hungary and Japan. PE International provided data for fuels, raw maerials and steel wheel manufacturing processes.

Earlier this month, Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation announced they would invest $2 million to help fund a national initiative with Keep America Beautiful aimed at increasing the US recycling rate of aluminum, plastic, glass and paper to 75 percent by 2015.

The Action to Accelerate Recycling commitment incorporates initiatives that aim to generate awareness, create incentives and provide recycling access and infrastructure. Increasing the US recycling rate to 75 percent – which, for beverage cans, has been an Alcoa goal since 2008 – would generate close to 300 additional tons of recycled content, resulting in the avoidance of more than 2,850 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, Alcoa said.

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