For a couple of years, Rio Tinto has been working on the development of a stronger car wheel alloy that could cut fuel consumption, improve safety and handling and, according to the company, “supersede an industry standard no one had bettered for more than four decades.” Now Rio Tinto reports that it received the first order of its so-called ‘Revolution-Al’ wheel alloy.
The new alloy’s main improvement is that it is 15-20% stronger than the traditional – and less colourfully named – wheel alloy, A356.2. This translates to a 7% weight reduction and better fuel efficiency or battery range. The lighter, stronger wheels also mean better performance and handling and reduced tire wear.
What’s more: when a wheel is lighter, the impact on efficiency is more dramatic than with other parts because a lighter wheel means the car needs less energy to start moving. The strength of Revolution-Al means that as manufacturers increasingly look to make lighter, more fuel efficient cars, the new alloy could be used to light-weight car parts other than wheels.
Another plus: the new alloy also needs less time to produce a wheel and is cast in existing facilities, thereby reducing the cost and increasing the rate of production, stresses Rio Tinto.