Green Scene

Steel Fights Back Against Alternative Auto Materials

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Big Picture vs. what Consumers know
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/25/2011 9:41:04 AM

Rob’s article explains the three categories of vehicle emissions as (1) during manufacture, (2) during use, and (3) at end-of-life.  From God’s grand perspective of the universe, this is absolute and true.  However from the puny perspective of an average consumer, only the middle one rates.  Consumers today are being fed propaganda from multi media sources that the middle one, emissions during use, are what the Green-initiatives are all about. Often, overly self-righteous and often myopic in true vision. Articles like this one should be heralded from the rooftops, to inform the public of the whole truth.  For this reason, we all as Design Engineers, have to carry the burden of developing all three categories toward improved levels. Because consumers don’t understand and they only care about the “middle one”.

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Re: Steel
daveladdjr   10/25/2011 9:34:25 AM
And methanol came into the discussion.  Methanol is a step backwards for a number of reasons.  The one that really worries me is, what do we do when the arable soil runs out?  Proponents of Ethanol always neglect to mention that raising crops takes mass out of the soil that cannot be replaced.   Walk through a corn field.  Those stalks, roots, and ears don't grow out of thin air, rain and sunshine.  There's also the fact that trace elements/chemicals that the human metabolism requires eventually go away forever.  You might be tempted to think, Hey what about fertilizer?  There's another double-edged sword.  Do you know what we're doing to the Gulf of Mexico with the runoff of fertilizer flowing down the Mississippi River?  There's this huge oxygen depleted zone that's growing at an increasing rate (thanks to ... you guessed it).  Nothing can live in that zone.  Ethanol requires additional energy, all through the refining, storage, and delivery cycle, to keep water out of it.  That's not helpful in the combustion cycle and is actually very corrosive to engine parts.  Ethanol contains about 82% of the energy of gasoline so your engine runs less efficiently with it.  I Think that's enough environmental bad news to make a solid case against it.  If some of the big farm, and farming related companies hadn't sold congress on the joys of free energy (free, except for the huge governmental subsidies), we would have tossed this bad news idea years ago.  I apologize for the rant but this business has been stuck in my craw for a long time.

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Re: Steel
jmiller   10/24/2011 11:06:18 PM
I also like the concept of looking at the whole picture when looking at the carbon foot print.  It bus me when people only focus on the operating foot print of the electircal cars.  Much of the same can be said of the other green fuels.  Take ethynal for example.  There is more to ethynal than just turning corn into gas.  There is the ability to use the waste product, (stocks etc) for gas as well.  There is still significant potential to increase crop output.  When you compare these types of green technology with wind energy some logical conclusions have to be drawn.  Let's face it, the wind will never start blowing twice as hard as it does now.  But we can work towards doubling the output of our farm generated fuel sources.  Okay so I kind of chased a squirrel on this post.

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Tim   10/24/2011 9:09:06 PM
It is good to see the steel industry moving forward trying to keep up in the lightweight material race.  As an end user, it is a lot cheaper to pull a dent in a steel panel than it is to replace an entire composite car panel.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Educating the EPA
Rob Spiegel   10/24/2011 9:23:04 AM
I agree William. It's the same argument IPC had with the EU over RoHS. IPC said, we will be happy to comply with your regulations if they're based on science. While IPC didn't win the battle on that point (there is still argument over whether lead leaches from solder in the landfill), the EU did yield to IPC's call for science-based justification on upcoming materials in line for restriction.

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Educating the EPA
williamlweaver   10/24/2011 8:38:34 AM
I am encouraged that the Steel Market Development Institute is engaged in educating the EPA. I can only extend my naive hope that the EPA hires as many scientists and engineers as they do politicians and regulators. I am all for innovation, but when a new "green" technology is deployed too often the energy balance does not include the fact that its use relies on exotic heavy metals and energy produced from the electricity grid. We are already fighting perpetual wars on drugs, poverty and ineffective education in the US. We can't afford a new war on CO2. 

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