article By now, you’ve probably heard about the incredible amount of aluminum in your car’s engine compartment, and the massive amount of it in your body.
A new study by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, finds that aluminum’s density is about four times higher than the average car’s, and aluminum is also incredibly dense and resistant to corrosion.
And with aluminum being so valuable, the scientists decided to make it so that they could get a lot of aluminum out of your car.
They started by looking at how much aluminum was in the air inside of a typical car, then they calculated how much would be needed to make a large system that could heat up your car to its desired temperature.
They found that an entire system would require roughly 1.4 tons of aluminum to heat up a typical 1,200-pound vehicle.
That’s an order of magnitude more than the weight of the cars in the study.
To make the system work, they had to use a combination of steel, concrete, and cement.
The researchers calculated that, if they could make a system with the same number of steel and concrete, the weight would be around 3.5 tons, which is the equivalent of a small, three-story apartment building.
“This study is really a demonstration of the strength of the material we’re using,” says senior author Dr. James J. Miller, the assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the UT Austin School of Engineering.
“The results are so powerful that they show us how to create a system that is very scalable, can be very lightweight, and has the strength to heat and cool a car over a large period of time.”
Miller and his colleagues were able to build a system using about 50,000 tons of steel with just a few months of study.
“What was surprising was that the aluminum structure we were building actually did the job of cooling the car,” he says.
“That’s not to say it’s going to cool it well, because the aluminum is very dense and it’s very strong.”
Miller says the researchers think their system will have the potential to cool cars down to as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, which would be a huge improvement over a typical cooling system.
He adds that it may be possible to build the system using materials like aluminum or concrete that have been found to cool vehicles.
“We’ve been working on this since the 1970s,” he notes.
“It’s something that has been the subject of intense research for decades.”
The study was published in the journal Science.