Ford recycling creates 30,000 F-150 bodies worth of aluminium every month

Posted on 2 May 2016 by Tim Brown

Ford produces about 20 million pounds (9 million kg) of aluminum stamping scrap per month, which is recycled as a part of the company's closed loop recycling system and goes on to provide parts for the F-150.

The toughest, smartest, most capable and safest F-150 ever is also the greenest according to Ford - image courtesy of Ford
The toughest, smartest, most capable and safest F-150 ever is also the greenest according to Ford – image courtesy of Ford.

Opting for aluminium (or aluminum – see history lesson below) over steel in new automobile construction is the best way to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, according to Oak Ridge National Lab.

Recycled aluminium avoids 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production. It uses significantly less energy and water – another reason Ford F-150 leads the full-size truck pack in terms of lifetime carbon footprint, according to Automotive Science Group.

Ford recycling closed loop system

  1. First, special recycling equipment separates the aluminum from other metals, divides it into six different alloys, cleans it, shreds it and transports it to special trucks.
  2. The trucks then deliver the processed aluminum back to the supplier, who melts it down to remove any impurities.
  3. The molten metal is reshaped into coils and then shipped back to Ford stamping plants, where it is reintroduced back into the manufacturing process and used to make parts for the F-150 produced at Ford’s Dearborn Truck and Kansas City Assembly Plants.

Weight savings from aluminium alloy helps the F-150 reduce its lifetime emissions compared to the previous steel-body version. Between 30-40% of a typical aluminum coil is turned into scrap in the stamping process. The Ford recycling team then turns it into new metal for the truck using the closed-loop system.

Using Ford’s 2.7L EcoBoost engine with standard Auto Start-Stop technology, F-150 4×2 has best-in-class EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (actual mileage will vary).

F-150 SuperCrew and SuperCab with available collision warning are the only trucks in their class to earn a Top Safety Pick from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. F-150 also is the only full-size, light-duty truck to earn National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s highest rating, a five-star overall vehicle score and five-star rating for driver and passenger for all crash test modes and cab configurations

Aluminium vs aluminum

The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary for any word used as a name for this element is alumium, which Humphry Davy employed in 1808 for the metal he was trying to isolate electrolytically from the mineral alumina. The citation is from his journal Philosophical Transactions: “Had I been so fortunate have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium.” [11]

By 1812, Davy had settled on aluminum, which, as other sources note, matches its Latin root. He wrote in the journal Chemical Philosophy: “As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state.”[12] But the same year, an anonymous contributor to the Quarterly Review, a British political-literary journal, objected to aluminum and proposed the name aluminium, “for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound.” [13]

The -ium suffix had the advantage of conforming to the precedent set in other newly discovered elements of the period: potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, and strontium (all of which Davy had isolated himself). Nevertheless, -um spellings for elements were not unknown at the time, as for example platinum, known to Europeans since the 16th century, molybdenum, discovered in 1778, and tantalum, discovered in 1802.

Americans adopted -ium for most of the 19th century, with aluminium appearing in Webster’s Dictionary of 1828. In 1892, however, Charles Martin Hall used the -um spelling in an advertising handbill for his new electrolytic method of producing the metal, despite his constant use of the -ium spelling in all the patents he filed between 1886 and 1903. Hall’s domination of production of the metal ensured that the spelling aluminum became the standard in North America; the Webster Unabridged Dictionary of 1913, though, continued to use the -ium version.

In 1926, the American Chemical Society officially decided to use aluminum in its publications; American dictionaries typically label the spelling aluminium as a British variant”