MONTREAL—Canadian aluminium producer Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. has signed a five-year partnership with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to expand the use of aluminium in light vehicles and trains.
“We see that the demand in the automotive market will be growing within the next few years, so we want to find new ways to produce (aluminium) and new products that can help the industry build lighter vehicles,” Rio Tinto Alcan spokesperson Claudine Gagnon said.
The partnership between Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan and the federally-funded NRC will see the two launch a joint aluminium extrusion research program to improve the material’s profitability and expand its reach to help meet industry demand.
The expanded use of lightweight materials in passenger vehicles and light trucks has gained momentum in recent years as automakers look to boost the fuel efficiency of their lineups.
And with tighter vehicle emissions regulations in the pipeline, manufacturers like the Ford Motor Co. are turning to aluminium to reduce weight to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
“We saw over the past few (automakers like) Ford are adding aluminium, Audi already has a lot of aluminium in its cars, Land Rover, Volvo,” Gagnon said. “We know it’s a sustainable choice to make, so we want to encourage them to use more aluminium and have lighter (products).”
Rio Tinto Alcan said the partnership is valued at about $3.25-million, with the project’s research and development work conducted at its Arvida Research & Development Centre (ARDC) and NRC’s research facilities, both located in Saguenay, Que.