At one-third the cost—and density—the choice is clear

Aug 21, 2008 | 12:18 PM |

In the tug-of-war between copper-brass and aluminum radiator technology, analysts agree that aluminum has clearly won the battle in the light, on-road vehicle sector. The focus is now on the off-road, heavy-vehicle market.

Although aluminum holds the edge in the near term, the emerging CuproBraze technology stands out as a bright alternative to aluminum in the heavy-vehicle sector in the long term. CuproBraze produces thinner, lighter copper radiators with good corrosion resistance and repairability, greater flexibility and tensile strength, easier cleaning and lower material costs, according to those familiar with the product.

Currently, emerging challenges favor aluminum's lighter weight over copper-based products, according to Sandeep Kar, program manager of heavy truck technologies at San Antonio-based market research firm Frost & Sullivan. Record-high diesel fuel prices—$4.76 a gallon in mid-July—and ever-tougher Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions rules are steering heavy vehicle makers toward aluminum as the best solution to weight-savings problems.

"Truck makers, fleet operators and end-users are doing all they can to reduce the weight of the truck so they can save diesel fuel costs," Kar said. "We are in an environment of very incredible fuel prices, and that is impacting the heavy truck design."....

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