Theme 2: Less metal same service
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?
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