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How Lightweight Materials can Provide Effective Solutions

The materials showing the way to future vehicles may be light in terms of weight, but they are far from "lightweight" in importance. They will be critical to meeting new U.S. government mandated fuel economy standards of 36 miles per gallon for passenger cars by the year 2014.

"There are three ways to reduce fuel consumption," said Arianna T. Morales, Ph.D., staff research scientist at the General Motors R&D Center in Warren, Mich. "We can reduce or eliminate the use of gasoline by developing hybrid cars and fuel cell powered vehicles. We can make our direct combustion engines more efficient. Or, we can reduce the weight of the vehicle to use less gas."

A special ASM International symposium at the Materials Science & Technology Conference in Pittsburgh, Oct. 25-29, describes how light weight materials can provide effective solutions while maintaining vehicle strength and integrity.

The ASM Ground Transportation Committee has focused its technical program on magnesium, aluminum and titanium alloys, with additional coverage of ultra high strength steels. "Use of these materials has demonstrated that we can achieve the same or greater strength while reducing weight," Morales said.

The benefit of the ASM symposium is two fold. "Engineers usually have to either modify light weight materials to comply with a specific process, or modify a process to comply with the material," Morales said. "This symposium covers both challenges."

The symposium is designed to benefit OEMs and suppliers beyond the automotive industry alone. "Automotive is an extreme case because the business is high volume and cost is critical. But any industry that has to do with forming or processing parts from light weight materials will benefit from this symposium," Morales said.

Materials Science & Technology, the leading forum addressing structure, properties, processing and performance across the materials community, will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The MS&T technical program covers ceramic and glass materials, electronic and magnetic materials, environmental and energy issues, fundamentals and characterization, iron and steel, materials and systems, nanotechnology, processing and product manufacturing.

This partnership of four leading materials societies brings together scientists, engineers, students, suppliers and others to discuss current research and applications, and shape the future of materials science and technology.

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