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Quantifying environmental benefits of auto weight reduction

Article-Quantifying environmental benefits of auto weight reduction

Cutting weight from cars has to help the environment by reducing emissions and increasing mileage, right? Trexel decided to find out just how much good its MuCell microcellular foam can do, and hired an environmental firm to spell it out. As it happens, they only need capital letters.

To start the study, Trexel's engineers aggregated the impact of the MuCell process on a vehicle from the company's file of mold trials and actual applications. The company then retained the environmental firm Simply Sustain LLC to determine the environmental impact using a cradle-to-grave analysis.

The analysis showed that, for a fleet of only 100,000 cars, replacing parts with MuCell foam versions optimized for the process could reduce the carbon footprint by more than 6.3 million gallons of gasoline, and the CO2 emissions by nearly 65,000 tonnes over the course of a 150,000-mile life of the cars.

If that sounds like a lot, take out your calculator. In 2007 the global auto industry produced around 51 million vehicles. Trexel president and CEO Steve Braig noted that decisions to use the weight-saving foam have generally been done piecemeal, project-by-project. "The environmental analysis of the MuCell process conducted by a leading firm now shows the industry the tremendous positive environmental impact and potential for CO2 reduction when using the MuCell process," he said.

The numbers are, in fact, very impressive, and deserve the attention of the automakers as demands for greener cars continue to rise. To see the complete report by Simply Sustain LLC, go to the Trexel website, —Rob Neilley

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