CHICAGO Alcoa Inc. has licensed and commercialized a "breakthrough" bonding technology to automotive surface treatment firm Chemetall GmbH in a move the company says will allow aluminum to be used more widely on mass-produced vehicles.
The Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer said "Alcoa 951" is the new standard for pre-treatment bonding for aluminum sheet, extrusion and casting suppliers serving the automotive sector.
With aluminum use in vehicles expected to double by 2025, new methods of joining aluminum to other materials are needed to prevent corrosion.
Non-chrome Alcoa 951 is more environmentally friendly than other alternatives and more durable than traditional titanium-zirconium applications, the company claimed.
"The use of this technology is helping to enable greater use of aluminum throughout the industry and helping make mass-produced aluminum-intensive vehicles possible," Kay Meggers, Alcoa executive vice president and group president of Alcoa global rolled products, said in a statement April 5.
Automotive firms asked Alcoa to license the technology, which is being incorporated into the expansion of Alcoas Davenport (Iowa) Works, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, the company said.
Under the terms of the license, Frankfurt am Main, Germany-based Chemetall will make Alcoa 951 available to other aluminum companies, an Alcoa spokesman said. Alcoa will receive royalties from the license, but perhaps the primary benefit is that automotive suppliers will be able to use one bonding standard from a range of aluminum providers, he added.
"This is going to grow aluminum across the board," the spokesman said. "Its not just a matter of more aluminum on a vehicle, its more aluminum on high-volume vehicles."
The spokesman declined to disclose the terms of the license agreement, which other aluminum firms might have adopted the technology or which automotive producers were using it, and said it was too early to say what vehicle models might employ it.
Aluminum producers expect to see their market share increase compared with traditional steels, given the push by automakers to increase fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight.