This article presents the results of a study which examined the ways in which energy could be conserved in the production of automobiles. It was estimated that the production of an average 3600 lb. automobile required about 100 million Btu. For 1970, automobile production consumed approximately 1.2% of total U.S. energy consumption. Fuel consumption for the same year was estimated to be 15.6% of total U.S. energy consumption for that year. Based on these data, the production of lighter weight cars was examined as a means of energy conservation. It was found that, while energy savings occur in both production and operation, the operating energy saved per pound of car weight reduction is much higher. For example, a 2000 lb. automobile (reduced from 3600 lb.) would realize a production energy saving of 0.55%, an operating energy saving of 6.95%, and a total national energy saving of 7.5%. Also, use of recycled materials would save additional energy, which is estimated to be about 0.30% of total U.S. consumption for the 2000 lb. cars. The production of lighter aluminum cars was also studied. The energy required to produce aluminum is about 6.7 times that required to produce steel on an equal weight basis. On an equal gauge basis, steel being 2.95 times heavier, primary aluminum is 2.27 times more energy intensive than primary steel. Thus, if the weight of the car is reduced by substituting aluminum for steel, a penalty in energy will result. A plot of production energy losses as steel is replaced by aluminum reveals that whereas a 2000 lb. car produced with steel realizes a saving of 7.5%, the same car produced with aluminum realizes a 6.2% saving. The advantage, however, appears when one looks at the recycling of aluminum cars. Here a significant saving of 1.1% of total U.S. energy consumption results, as compared with the 0.30% saving for recycled steel.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Department of Civil Engineering, 77 Massachusetts Avenue
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02139
  • Authors:
    • Tien, J K
    • Clark, R W
    • Malu, M K
  • Publication Date: 1975-2

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 38-43
  • Serial:
    • Technology Review
    • Volume: 77
    • Issue Number: 4
    • Publisher: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • ISSN: 1099-274X

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00099739
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 30 1975 12:00AM