10 01, 2019

Environmental Advantages of Aluminum Extrusions

2019-01-10T19:19:41+00:00January 10th, 2019|

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Aluminum. It’s light. It’s strong. It’s highly recyclable. And it’s leading the charge in our planet-wide quest for a more renewable, sustainable future… and aluminum extrusions are definetly part of the conservation puzzle..

Strides in aluminum alloy technology have allowed aluminum products to lower energy and carbon emissions in countless applications. From the automotive and aerospace industry, to construction and marine, consumer products, and beyond, aluminum is no doubt the sustainable solution for the modern world.

The facts don’t lie. The energy required to create new aluminum has decreased by 26% in the last two and a half decades, and the entire industry’s global warming potential has decreased by 37% (source: aluminum.org). This is due in large part to robust aluminum recycling programs that manufacturers have adopted.

Let’s dig deeper into the different facets of aluminum that is making it the material of the future.

LIGHTWEIGHT DESIGN

Implementing lightweight aluminum into manufacturing designs presents a great opportunity to increase the sustainable use of energy. Aluminum’s light weight contributes to increased fuel efficiency in transport vehicles, from consumer automobiles to military vehicles and airplanes. Aluminum’s 95% reflectivity property can be used in building materials to reduce heating costs within green buildings, and improves the efficiency of solar panels and solar cells.

We will go over the sustainability aluminum provides due to recycling further below, but it is important to note that the greatest environmental benefit comes from the day to day use of vehicles and buildings that are built with aluminum.

For buildings, the use of aluminum in extrusion-based building components (such as windows, sunshades, facades, etc.) can massively decrease the operating costs and energy usage over the lifetime of a building.

Aluminum extrusions’ combination of low weight and high strength provides immense benefits to pretty much anything with a motor and wheels. In using this material, you are reducing the mass that must be moved by the transportation system. Mass reductions in this way can lead to further downsizing elsewhere in the design, which results in reduced carbon emissions and energy consumption.

Each pound of aluminum used in place of high-strength steel provides the following benefits:

  • saves the equivalent of 3.1 gallons of crude oil over the life of the vehicle (source: org)
  • saves CO2 from day one, using recycled aluminum (source: org)

RECYCLING

The sustainability benefits that come from recycling aluminum are unmatched. As with any recyclable material, recycling aluminum conserves energy and our natural resources, as well as reduces water and air pollution.

Aluminum is INFINITELY recyclable. That means that it can be recycled over and over with virtually no limit.

Since 1884, billions of metric tons of aluminum have been produced, and today, roughly 74% of that amount is still in use today.

Yes, aluminum is truly unparalleled when it comes to recycling.. In fact, all aspects of products made from aluminum can be reused. That means that a simple act like tossing your aluminum cans into the recycling bin, instead of the general trash, can conserve 95% of the energy that it takes to create a new aluminum can.

For every 1 ton of aluminum recycled, the planet is spared 9 tons of CO2 emissions.

Members of the Aluminum Extrusion Council are deeply involved in scrap collection and secondary smelting programs. (source: AEC.org).

CONCLUSION

Although modern technology is making the world much smaller, it’s also introducing a lot of design challenges as we work towards creating a better, more sustainable future. Taber Extrusions is proud to be a prominent member of the aluminum extrusion industry, as it gives us the opportunity to assist manufacturers in reducing their carbon footprint in their designs, and work towards a better tomorrow.

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