Ottawa, Ontario — June 15, 2016 — The introduction of the aluminum-bodied F-150 led to a lot of speculation that soon many major automakers would be turning to this material to decrease the curb weight of their vehicles. While the automotive industry has been slower to adopt aluminum than some were expecting, there is definitely a future for this material. Research is ongoing, and some of the most cutting-edge is taking place right in our backyard.
A newly formed alliance called ALTec Industrial R&D Group is consolidating research efforts in the Canadian aluminium sector to develop aluminium products, specifically “for ground transportation vehicles” according to an official statement. That includes passenger cars and light trucks, of course, but also encompasses other forms of ground transport. The research group is linked to the National Research Council’s Lightweighting of Ground Transportation Vehicles program. This program focuses on the use of aluminum to reduce weight.
“By 2020, the world aluminum market in the transportation sector alone is forecasted to represent more than 65 billion US dollars,” says Michel Dumoulin, General Manager of Automotive and Surface Transportation at the National Research Council of Canada. “Canadian businesses include aluminum in the design of their vehicles, but we saw a gap in knowledge transfer and this is where ALTec comes in.”
The ALTec research group already has 23 members and partners which will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and Canada’s most advanced expertise in aluminium forming, assembling, corrosion control, and performance validation. A major partner, the ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation du Québec, has contributed $450,000 through the Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Hub known as PRIMA.
“This alliance helps strengthen collaborative innovation in the field of advanced materials to enrich Quebec’s research expertise and increase the competitiveness of companies,” said Benoit Balmana, General Director of the Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Hub.
The National Research Council of Canada is spearheading the project. Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, is also a participant.
“Rio Tinto is proud to contribute $125,000 to this partnership. Our commitment to research and development for innovative applications in the automotive sector ensures that the low-carbon footprint aluminium produced in Canada continues to be the material of choice for world class automakers,” said Frédéric Laroche, Director of the Arvida Research and Development Center at Rio Tinto Aluminium. “ALTec generates positive results and contributes to the economic development of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.”