LONDON — Rio Tinto Group has developed an aluminum alloy it claims can be used to cut the weight of vehicle wheels by as much as 7 percent while retaining the same strength characteristics.
London-based Rio Tinto — one of the world's largest processors of aluminum ore — is calling the new product "Revolution-Al" and said it's part of its high-strength 3xx Series Alloys.
Tolga Egrilmezer, vice president of sales and marketing, called Revolution-Al a "clear example" of how Rio Tinto aims to deliver responsible solutions to its customers and the whole manufacturing ecosystem.
"Our new wheel alloy is stronger, allowing designers to make a lighter wheel, which, in turn, can make cars safer and more appealing to end consumers, in addition to having reduced CO2 emissions," he said.
Among claims Rio Tinto is making about the new products are that:
- Wheel design improvement provides opportunities to enhance visual appearance, tire performance, vehicle handling and maneuverability as well as reduce CO2 emissions and tire wear;
- It is 15% to 20% stronger than traditional wheel alloy A356.2 (which allows the wheel weight reduction); and
- It is an easy and cost-efficient manufacturing solution, including a seamless transition with existing casting processes and a two-hour shorter aging cycle versus A356.2.
The company did not elaborate on the process it's using to achieve the improvements nor on how much it would cost versus conventional aluminum.
"As we partner with customers, we're seeing an increasing demand for specialized alloys and other products to meet their specific needs," Rio Tinto Aluminium CEO Alf Barrios said. "Developing these products is at the heart of our business, from research and development, to offering technical expertise and marketing as well as collaborating with OEMs."
Besides aluminum, Rio Tinto supplies copper, diamonds, gold, industrial minerals (borates, titanium dioxide and salt), iron ore and uranium. Aluminum represented about 28% of the firm's $43 billion in revenue in 2018.