Theme 2: Less metal same service

lightweight 2 150x150

Today, metal is used wastefully in products and their manufacture. The emissions associated with steel and aluminium are directly related to the mass consumed, and therefore efficient product design and high yield in manufacturing is desired.

Can we use less metal in making products?


Going on a metal diet [pdf 2.2Mb]

Working Papers

See Publications

  1. W1 Cullen J (2011) Global flow of steel. WellMet2050
  2. W2 Cullen J (2011) Global flow of aluminium. WellMet2050
  3. W3 Carruth M (2011) Design optimization case study: food cans
  4. W4 Carruth M (2011) Design optimization case study: deep sea linepipe
  5. W5 Carruth M (2011) Design optimization case study: structural beams
  6. W6 Carruth M (2011) Design optimization case study: car structures
  7. W7 Moynihan M (2011) Design optimization case study: reinforcing bar
  8. W8 Milford R (2011) The effects of yield losses on embodied CO2 emissions in four case study metal products
  9. W9 Milford R (2011) The global emissions case for lightweight design and process yield improvements
  10. W10 Patel S (2011) The incentives for product lightweighting and yield improvement

Global Flows of Steel and Aluminium

Before we can begin to count the metal or carbon emissions from lighter products and more efficient manufacturing processes, we need to first visualise the flow of steel and aluminium through the production system.

Designing Products with Less Material

Lightweight design aims to use less material to deliver the same services. Potentially this offers a significant opportunity to reduce demand for steel and aluminium, so could be an important abatement strategy for CO2 emissions.

Reducing Manufacturing Scrap

Liquid metal production is the most energy intensive stage in making metal components, so has had most attention, and is by now highly energy efficient. However, total demand for liquid metal is driven by a combination of final product mass and yield losses in production.

The Economic Case for Using Less Metal

Product lightweighting and yield improvement have the potential to deliver financial savings through reduce material costs, reduced use phase costs and decreased exposure to carbon taxes.

Policy and Liquid Metal Consumption

Both yield improvement and produce lightweighting save embodied emissions in manufactured products, and product lightweighting may have additional use phase emissions benefits. Does current UK government policy offer adequate incentives for these emissions saving strategies?

Photo credit: Елен Андреа