8 Decarbonisation Tactics That Are Cleaning Up Automotive Manufacturing

Decarbonisation refers to the process of reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - and other greenhouse gases - from human activities. The primary objective of decarbonisation is to mitigate climate change and its associated impacts, by transitioning to low-carbon or carbon-neutral alternatives.

The burning of fossil fuels - such as coal, oil, and natural gas - releases significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Decarbonisation involves shifting away from these high-carbon energy sources and adopting cleaner, renewable energy options like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and nuclear power, which produce little-to-no greenhouse gas emissions during operation.

MAT use 100 % renewable electricity for our UK site. With foundry processes consuming large quantities of energy for induction melting of iron, the environmental benefit of this is significant.  

80 % renewable electricity is used to power the German sites. Where possible renewable options will be selected when contracts are renewed in due course.

However, decarbonisation efforts extend far beyond the energy sector. All industries have a responsibility to shrink their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner, greener world for future generations.

Automotive manufacturing – recognising its position of influence in both industry and transport – is in the fast lane of decarbonisation

Innovations in this sector have a huge impact on the health of the planet, and – as an additional bonus – the strength of individual businesses.

Here’s 8 big ways that decarbonisation is impacting the automotive industry… and some exciting developments we can expect in the future, too.

1. Electric vehicles (EVs). One of the most significant steps towards decarbonisation in the automotive sector is the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Automakers are investing heavily in the development and production of EVs, which produce zero tailpipe emissions. This shift away from internal combustion engines helps to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from transportation at large.

The sites in Poole and MAT Dania are using e-forklifts, which has been well received by the operational staff and warmly welcomed for ESG targets. MAT are looking to review their use at other sites. Senior management personnel are driving EVs with Poole having onsite charging facilities.

Lightweight Materials - MAT Foundry

2. Lightweight materials. Automakers are exploring lightweight materials - such as aluminium, carbon fibre and advanced composites - to reduce the weight of vehicles. Lighter vehicles require less energy to propel, leading to improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

3. Renewable energy in manufacturing. Automotive manufacturers are increasingly adopting renewable energy sources to power their production facilities. By investing in solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy to replace traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources, the carbon emissions associated with production are being significantly reduced.

4. Sustainable supply chains. By focusing on creating sustainable supply chains and working closely with their suppliers, automakers have more control over the responsible sourcing of raw materials, as well as reducing waste. Working to make progress in these areas. Our customers are starting to demand CO2 and other environmental analysis as part of the quotation for large supply contracts. 

Recycling - MAT Foundry

5. Recycling and circular economy. Manufacturers are emphasising how recycling and reuse of materials will minimise waste and extend the lifecycle of automotive components. This approach reduces the need for virgin raw materials and can even save costs long-term. MFG implement sand reclamation at the Poole site where degraded sand grains are processed on site, ready for further usage, thus reducing the volume sent to landfill.

6. Manufacturing process improvements. From upgrading equipment to optimising production processes and adopting energy-saving measures, automotive companies are implementing efficiency-boosting process improvements across their manufacturing facilities. This reduces energy consumption and associated emissions, right from the factory floor.

7. Research and development. To drive progress towards zero-emission transport alternatives, automakers are investing more and more of their resources into the study of experimental technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells.

MFG see the changing product landscape as an array of opportunities. Light-weight braking components will be integral to our future portfolio development.  

CO2 reduction during use-phase with mass reduction of braking components.

An automated production line is now installed in EURAC Hradec, the Czech facility for the production of riveted two-piece brake rotors. First batches of parts already delivered to the customer. This has a mass saving of 15 %.

MFG are also in the final stages of industrialisation for another lightweight brake rotor design featuring a novel sheet steel hub, also affixed using riveting.

The topic of sustainability and R&D have never been so intertwined. Product carbon footprints are now being used to select component designs, processes and suppliers.

The electrification of vehicles poses challenges to braking technology as primary braking is performed using regenerative strategies. Lower braking duty can allow for extended product service lives and future downsizing of components.

One big area for the automotive market is the upcoming EURO 7 regulation which will for the first time will limit brake dust emissions. MFG are actively looking at solution strategies that can be offered to the customers for regulatory compliance and to minimise the environmental impact of fine dust emissions.

Trends of mass reductions, electrification, corrosion and dust emissions push brake component designs into entirely uncharted territories. An area where MFG seeks to continually add value for the customer.

8. Collaborations and partnerships. Governments, research institutions and automotive manufacturers are joining forces to power decarbonisation efforts. These partnerships aim to share knowledge, develop common standards, and work towards the collective goal of a greener future.

These efforts by the automotive manufacturing industry are crucial in achieving decarbonisation targets and transitioning towards a more sustainable transportation sector.

MAT partnered with Norican Group to implement their Monitizer platform that utilises smart Industry 4.0 technology to capture real time data and optimise process condition for cost savings and waste reduction.

The future of decarbonisation in automotive manufacturing holds several exciting developments, too.

Decarbonisation Efforts - MAT Foundry

The trends of tomorrow could include…

Transition to sustainable fuels.

While EVs gain prominence, there will still be a role for sustainable fuels, especially in heavy-duty applications and long-haul transportation. Hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels are areas of ongoing research and development, aiming to provide zero or low-emission alternatives to traditional internal combustion engines.

The age of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and shared mobility.

The rise of MaaS and shared mobility models, including ridesharing and car-sharing services, are set to revolutionise decarbonisation efforts. These models promote efficient use of vehicles, reduce the total number of vehicles on the road, and provide opportunities for electrification and the use of low-carbon transport options.

For automotive manufacturers, this could mean a shift in consumer attitudes (such as relying on these services instead of buying their own car).

In turn, automakers will naturally see a rise in vehicle customisations to suit specific service needs, as well as a critical shift towards data and analytics integrations. After all, with a booming new market potentially on the horizon, manufacturers will be keen to gain insights into the user preferences that will enhance their product development strategies.

Boosted policy and regulatory support.

Decarbonisation is changing the world as we know it, and that includes our transport infrastructure.

Governments around the world are poised to implement stringent emission standards, but this is also likely to include further incentives to encourage decarbonisation in the automotive industry. Continued policy support, such as stricter emissions regulations, tax incentives, and infrastructure investments, will further drive the transition to low-carbon manufacturing – right from the top.

MAT Foundry group are a leading manufacturer of grey and ductile iron car components. To learn more about us, view our products or contact us today.

To read how we're improving our environmental impact worldwide click here.

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