Anda di halaman 1dari 36

The “Carbon Footprint” of

Aluminum and Magnesium Die Casting


Compared to Injection Molded Components

William A. Butler 2008

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 1 7/10/2008 3:00:36 PM


Although great care has been taken to provide accurate and current information, neither the author(s) nor the publisher, nor anyone else associated
with this publication, shall be liable for any loss, damage or liability directly or indirectly caused or alleged to be caused by this book. The material
contained herein is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any specific situation. Any opinions expressed by the author(s) are
not necessarily those of NADCA.

Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks and are used only for identification and explanation without
intent to infringe nor endorse the product or corporation.
© 2008 by North American Die Casting Association, Wheeling, Illinois. All Rights Reserved.

Neither this book nor any part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, micro-
filming, and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing form the publisher.

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 2 7/10/2008 3:00:36 PM


The “Carbon Footprint” of Aluminum and Magnesium
Die Castings Compared to Injection Molded Components
By:
William A. Butler
NADCA
2008

Table of Contents
1. Introduction ………………………………………………….. 1

2. Executive Summary ………………………………………... 3

3. Carbon Footprint Overview ………………………………... 5

4. Life Cycle Assessment Goal and Scope …………………. 7

5. Life Cycle Inventory ………………………………………… 11

6. Life Cycle Impact Assessment ……………………………. 15

7. Life Cycle Assessment Interpretation ……………………. 23

8. Conclusions and Recommendations …………………….. 25

References …………………………………………………….. 27

Page i

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 3 7/10/2008 3:00:36 PM


Page ii Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 4 7/10/2008 3:00:37 PM


1. Introduction

This carbon footprint study was initiated by the North American Die Casting Association
(NADCA) for the benefit of its member companies. NADCA is the sole trade and
technical association of the die casting industry. NADCA membership consists of both
corporate and individual members from more than 950 companies located in every
geographic region of the U.S. These companies include custom die casters (who
produce die castings for sale to others), captive die casters (who produce castings for
their own use in manufacturing a product) and suppliers to the die casting industry.
Die casting is a century-old process of injecting molten metal into a steel die under
high pressure. The metal, usually aluminum, zinc, magnesium and sometimes copper, is
held under pressure until it solidifies into a net-shape metal part. In modern applications,
using computerized controls, die casters produce precision and high-strength products
at a rapid production rate. No other metalcasting processes allow for a greater variety of
shapes, intricacy of design or closer dimensional tolerance.
Die casters contribute more than $7.3 billion to the nation’s economy annually and
provide more than 63,000 jobs directly and indirectly. The die casting industry is a
microcosm of American business. About 58% of these companies have fewer than 100
employees, while the larger firms are world leaders. To meet the challenges posed by
today’s global marketplace, the North American die casting industry is leading the rest of
the world with new technology, higher productivity, innovative applications and superior
quality. The increased use of lighter weight metal components, such as aluminum die
castings, has spurred growth in the automotive sector. Today, there is an average of 300
lb. of aluminum castings per vehicle, an amount projected to grow to each year.
The die casting industry has long been built on recycling. The metal alloys used by
the die casters are produced from recycled raw materials, created with far less energy
than is required for virgin alloys. More than 95% of the aluminum die castings produced
in North America are made of post-consumer recycled aluminum, helping to keep the
aluminum content of municipal solid waste to less than 1%.
In response to questions from NADCA member companies about the carbon
footprint of automotive die castings compared to alternative materials and processes
for automotive components, this study was authorized. Specifically, the study compares
the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint of aluminum and magnesium die cast components
with the carbon footprint of injection molded plastic components. The results of the study
provide environmental impact information to the die casting industry, provide a baseline
for further component carbon footprint evaluations in the future and identify opportunities
for industry improvement in the environmental impact of die casting operations.

Carbon Footprint Page 1

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 5 7/10/2008 3:00:37 PM


Introduction

The report is divided into eight sections. Following this Introduction, an Executive
Summary is provided with the general results of the study and an outline of the
recommendations to the die casting industry. The third section provides a Carbon
Footprint Overview to provide a basis for the study and explain the terms and concepts
associated with carbon footprint studies as well as the limitations of these techniques.
Chapter 4 provides information on the Goal and Scope of Life Cycle Assessment
study. Chapters 5, 6 and 7 provide the detailed information determined by the study
of aluminum and magnesium die castings compared to injection molded components,
including a Life Cycle Inventory, a Life Cycle Impact Assessment and information on
interpreting the results of the study. Chapter 8 provides a summary of the study, some
general conclusions from the study and recommendations for the die casting industry. A
list of References utilized to develop the study is included at the end of the report.

Page 2 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 6 7/10/2008 3:00:37 PM


2. Executive Summary

This study examined the carbon footprint, defined as equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions, of an automotive cam cover produced by aluminum die casting, magnesium
die casting and plastic injection molding. The study was done by utilizing the four
phases of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): goal & scope, life cycle inventory, impact
assessment and interpretation. The procedures for LCA are a part of the ISO 14000
environmental standards being used throughout the world. Despite some criticisms
concerning the measurement of carbon footprint and disagreement as to the causes
and appropriate mitigations of global warming, the topic has come to the forefront of
discussion throughout the world. NADCA commissioned this project in response to
member interest in such an evaluation.
The cam cover component selected as the subject of this study is for a four-cylinder
engine. The part is produced from secondary 380 aluminum alloy by the die cast
process, from primary AZ91D magnesium alloy by the die cast process and from nylon
66 GF35 (35% glass fiber reinforced) material by injection molding. The designed
volume of the magnesium component is 10% more than the aluminum component, and
the volume of the nylon component is 20% more than the aluminum component to meet
strength requirements. The resulting mass of the finished components were 2.61 kg for
the aluminum component, 1.89 kg for the magnesium component and 1.58 kg for the
nylon component.
Process flow diagrams were developed for each process, and the energy used and
resulting carbon footprint, in terms of the kilograms of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions
of each step of the process, were tabulated. This information is discussed in detail in
Chapters 5 and 6 of this report. The study computed the carbon footprint for four phases
of product life of the cam cover: material production, product manufacture, product use
and product disposal. The results of the LCA indicate that most of the carbon footprint
results from the use of the product in the vehicle over its life. More than 90% of the
carbon footprint for the aluminum die casting was from Product Use, and 75% of the
carbon footprint for the nylon component was produced in this phase. The magnesium
die cast component had 33% of its carbon footprint generated in the Product Use phase
because its total carbon footprint was much larger due to the use of SF6 as a cover gas
during material production and product manufacture. This practice is addressed in the
conclusions and recommendations that follow.
Several conclusions and recommendations were drawn from the study and are provided.

Carbon Footprint Page 3

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 7 7/10/2008 3:00:38 PM


Executive Summary

Conclusions
• The greatest contributor to carbon footprint identified in the study is the use of SF6
as a cover gas during production of the magnesium die cast cam cover.
•N
 eglecting the contribution of Product Use to the total carbon footprint, aluminum
die casting has the lowest carbon footprint because of its use of secondary
aluminum alloys and its ability to be recycled.
• The production of the nylon material in the study contributed much more to the
carbon footprint than material production for the aluminum component. If the use of
SF6 were discontinued, magnesium production, even for primary alloys, would also
be favorable to the production of nylon.
• The Product Manufacture phase of component life was essentially equal for all three
components, except for the use of SF6 for the magnesium cam cover.
• Disposal of plastic is a growing problem. If resistance to landfilling scrap plastic
grows, the recycling or incineration of scrap plastic will significantly increase the
carbon footprint of these components. Corresponding to this, additional energy and
cost will be required to meet more stringent environmental requirements.
• The use of secondary magnesium alloys for automotive components would
significantly reduce the carbon footprint of these components.

Recommendations
1. The use of SF6 as a cover gas for magnesium should be eliminated.
2. The ability to recycle aluminum die castings and their resulting low carbon footprint
should be marketed heavily by the industry.
3. Industry initiatives which reduce energy consumption and increase energy
efficiency should be strongly encouraged, and their contribution to reducing the
carbon footprint of the components should be stressed.
4. The die casting industry should initiate and support the development of material
property data to encourage the use of secondary magnesium alloys. Currently,
primary magnesium alloys are specified for many components due to a lack of
confidence in the material properties of recycled alloy.
5. Additional carbon footprint studies should be considered by NADCA, utilizing
software programs that are being developed. These programs will provide a more
complete analysis of the contributions to the carbon footprint for components. They
also provide the ability to ask “what if” questions and perform sensitivity analysis of
alternatives. If NADCA were able to gain access to one or more of these computer
tools, this study could be expanded and validated.

Page 4 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 8 7/10/2008 3:00:38 PM


3. Carbon Footprint Overview

A carbon footprint is a description of the impact human activities have on the


environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) produced during an
activity1. This impact is measured in units of carbon dioxide (CO2). This measurement
is meant to be useful for individuals and organizations to conceptualize their personal
or organizational impact in contributing to global warming. The carbon footprint can be
seen as the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHG emitted over the full
life cycle of a product or service.
Normally, a carbon footprint is expressed as a CO2 equivalent (usually in kilograms
or tonnes) which accounts for the same global warming effects of different greenhouse
gases. Carbon footprints are often calculated using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
method. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which is also known as life cycle analysis,
ecobalance and cradle-to-grave analysis, is the investigation of the environmental
impacts of a given product or service. It is a variant of input-output analysis, focusing on
physical rather than monetary flows.
The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental damages assignable
to products and services, and to be able to choose between alternatives. The term
“life cycle” refers to the idea in which all phases in the life a product, from raw material
production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal, as well as all transportation
between each step, are included in the analysis.
The procedures for LCA are a part of the ISO 14000 environmental management
standards being used throughout the world. Specifically, ISO 14040:2006 and
14044:2006 outline the LCA process. (ISO 14044 replaced earlier versions of ISO
14041 to ISO 14043.) As the global automotive industry, a major user of die castings,
incorporates ISO 14000 into its operations, environmental considerations are receiving
increased emphasis and discussion. There are four phases to LCA: goal & scope, life
cycle inventory, impact assessment and interpretation, which will be discussed in detail
in subsequent sections of this report.

Carbon Footprint Page 5

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 9 7/10/2008 3:00:39 PM


Carbon Footprint Overview

The concept of a carbon footprint is not without criticism1. This criticism is usually
based on disagreement with one or more of the following assumptions underlying the
calculation of a carbon footprint.
1. That carbon emissions are a significant cause of global warming.
2. That human activity is a significant cause of these emissions.
3. That it is possible to attribute all or most emissions to particular individuals.
4. That individual initiative is necessary because market forces or legislation will not
be powerful and timely enough.
5. That other causes, such as methane emissions, are more important.
6. That human activity is not as significant a cause as natural processes such as
vulcanism or solar radiation.
7. That many emissions cannot reasonably be attributed to any individual. (For
example, should emissions from commuting be attributed to commuters or
consumers of what they produce?)
8. That market forces or political action will correct human activity in sufficient time.
9. That population growth invalidates the calculations.
10. That one cannot limit everyone to equal emissions. (For example, those in
urbanized societies may be unable to avoid some emissions, while less-
developed countries may not have the technology to mitigate others.)
In spite of the criticisms described above, the topic of global warming and the
measurement of the carbon footprints of both individuals and organizations have come
to the forefront of discussion throughout the world. Therefore, NADCA has embarked
upon this project to define the carbon footprint of die cast automotive components
in both aluminum and magnesium compared to the carbon footprint of the same
component produced by plastic injection molding.

Page 6 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 10 7/10/2008 3:00:39 PM


4. Life Cycle Assessment Goal and Scope

The goal of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is to compare the full range of environmental
damages assignable to products and services and to be able to choose the least
burdensome one2. The term “life cycle” refers to the idea that a fair assessment requires
consideration of raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal,
including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product. The
sum of all those steps is the life cycle of the product. For the purposes of developing a
carbon footprint, the assessment is made in terms of equivalent CO2 emissions.
There are four phases to a LCA study. These are: Goal & Scope, Life Cycle Inventory,
Life Cycle Impact Assessment and Interpretation. These four phases are presented in
this and the next three chapters.
The first phase of LCA specifies the goal and scope of the study in terms of a
functional unit. For example, if a study were comparing glass versus plastic bottles, the
functional unit might be “1 liter bottle container for refrigerated juices.” Comparing 1
kilogram of plastic bottles with 1 kilogram of glass bottles would not be an appropriate
functional unit.
The purpose of this LCA study is to compare the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint of
an aluminum, magnesium and injection molded component. The functional unit is an
automotive cam cover used in a four-cylinder engine, similar to that shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Typical Cam Cover Component

Carbon Footprint Page 7

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 11 7/10/2008 3:00:40 PM


Life Cycle Assessment Goal and Scope

A specific automotive design, already designed for both 380 alloy aluminum and
nylon 66 GF35, was utilized to determine the appropriate part volume. The 380 alloy
aluminum cover has a part volume of 0.00095 cubic meters and the nylon 66 GF35
(35% glass fiber reinforced) cover has a part volume of 0.00113 cubic meters, a 20%
increase over the aluminum, presumably to provide structural rigidity. For the purposes
of this study, the part volume for an AZ91D magnesium version of the cover is assumed
to have 10% more volume than the aluminum part, or 0.001045 cubic meters, also to
provide the required structural rigidity. The volume of this part is fairly large, but would
be similar to the combined volume of the two-valve covers required for a typical V6 or
V8 engine. The resulting mass of each component is shown in Table 1.

Table 1 – Volume and Mass of Functional Unit


Aluminum Magnesium Nylon 66
(380 alloy) (AZ91D) GF35
Part Volume (cm3) 950 1045 1130
Density (gm/cm3) 2.75 1.81 1.4
Part Mass (kg) 2.61 1.89 1.58

In its simplest form, the life cycle of a product has four stages: material production,
product manufacture, product use and product disposal. The diagram in Figure 2 shows
this generic product system for the functional unit described above. The four stages
are shown in the dotted boxes. Material production involves creation or preparation
of raw materials for the product and their transport to the manufacturing site. Product
manufacture includes the production of the functional unit (in this case, the automotive
cam cover), transportation of the part to the site of final product assembly, machining
of the product and its assembly into the final product, and transportation of the final
product to the customer. Product use includes the use of the product (in this case, the
operation of the vehicle by the consumer), as well as transportation of the product at
the end of its life to recovery facilities. Product disposal includes disassembly of the
vehicle to recover useful materials, the recycling of those materials and transportation to
a landfill for disposal, back to the material production site for recycling, or to another site
for reuse of the material in some other way. The actual flow of the product from cradle-
to-grave is different for each material. These actual material flows for die cast aluminum
and magnesium cam covers and for injection molded cam covers are presented in the
next chapter on Life Cycle Inventory.

Page 8 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 12 7/10/2008 3:00:40 PM


Life Cycle Assessment Goal and Scope

Figure 2 – Generic Product System for Automotive Engine Cover

An important aspect of LCA studies is to provide a clear understanding of the


assumptions made about the product and process at each stage of the life of the
product. Changes in these assumptions may often drastically affect the results of the
study. These assumptions also provide opportunities for identifying technological or
management initiatives that can improve the carbon footprint of a particular alternative.
The following assumptions were utilized for the purposes of this study.
1. Material Assumptions
• The aluminum die casting is produced from secondary 380 alloy, delivered to the
production plant in the form of ingots. Both the smelter and the die casting operation
have 5% melt loss from alloy melting.
• The magnesium die casting is produced from primary AZ91D alloy, delivered to the
production plant in the form of ingots. The magnesium part volume is 10% more
than the aluminum part for rigidity. There is 5% melt loss at the smelter. Both the
smelter and the die caster utilize SF6 as a cover gas.
• The nylon 66 GF35 injection molded part is produced from pellet material delivered
to the plant in tote bins. The injection molded part volume is 20% more than the
aluminum part to permit necessary rigidity.

2. Recycling of Plant Scrap and Machining Fines


• The aluminum die casting yield is 50%, and biscuits, runners and scrap castings
are remelted on-site. There is 10% material removed during machining, which is
returned to the secondary smelter for recycling.
• The magnesium die casting yield is 50%, and biscuits, runners and scrap castings
are transported off-site to produce secondary alloy for other uses. There is 10%
material removed during machining, which is also utilized to produce secondary alloy
for other uses.
• The nylon injection molding yield is 50%, and sprue, runners and scrap components are
transported off-site and ground for reuse in other products. There is 10% material removed
during machining, which is also transported and ground for reuse in other products.

Carbon Footprint Page 9

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 13 7/10/2008 3:00:42 PM


Life Cycle Assessment Goal and Scope

3. Product Use
• The useful life of the end product, an automobile, is considered to be 200,000
kilometers at a gasoline fuel usage of 8.5 kilometers per liter (20 MPG).

4. End-of-Life Recycling
• At the end of the life of the vehicle, the aluminum is recovered and recycled into new
380 alloy secondary ingots.
• Magnesium recovered at the end of product life is utilized to produce secondary
alloy for other uses.
• Nylon 66 GF35 recovered from end-of-life recovery becomes part of the “fluff” from
recovery operations and is disposed of in a landfill.

Page 10 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 14 7/10/2008 3:00:42 PM


5. Life Cycle Inventory

The second phase of LCA is building a model of the product system, including inputs and
outputs for all processes that compose the product system. Since this study is interested
in the carbon footprint of the product, the material and energy inputs and outputs are of
primary interest. Once these are established, the carbon footprint can be estimated.

Die Cast Aluminum


The model of the process flow for a die cast aluminum cam cover is shown in Figure
3. It reflects the assumptions discussed previously and shows the various stages of
material and product production and processing.

Figure 3 – Die Cast Aluminum Engine Cover Process Flow Chart

Carbon Footprint Page 11

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 15 7/10/2008 3:00:46 PM


Life Cycle Inventory

The flow chart describes the flow of raw material through the manufacturing process,
followed by the use of the component in the vehicle and the end-of-life recovery of the
component for recycling. Since the energy inputs to the process depend on the mass
of the alloy, it is important that the amount of alloy involved in each process step be
identified. These are indicated on the process flow chart. The aluminum component
has a finished mass of 2.61 kg, as indicated in Table 1. This means that the die cast
component has a mass of 2.90 kg, with 0.29 kg being removed during machining. The
machining fines are transported to the secondary smelter.
The die cast process has a 50% yield, which means that 5.80 kg of alloy must be
provided to the die casting machine. The remelt of 2.90 kg is returned to the melting
furnace in the die casting plant for remelting. This melting operation has a 5% melt loss,
so 3.21 kg of ingots are needed from the secondary smelter in addition to the 2.90 kg of
remelt alloy to produce the 5.80 kg of alloy for the die casting machine. The secondary
smelting operation also has a 5% melt loss and requires 0.48 kg of secondary scrap in
addition to the 2.61 kg of alloy from end-of-life recovery and the 0.29 kg of alloy returned
from machining operations.
Die casting and injection molding require the use of steel dies or molds. In order to
account for the energy required for the production of these tools, and their contribution to
the carbon footprint of each process, a loop is shown attached to the die casting operation.
To determine the carbon footprint of the aluminum die cast cam cover, the energy inputs
and outputs for each step of the process flow are assessed in the next section.

Die Cast Magnesium


A similar process flow chart is shown in Figure 4 for a die cast magnesium cam cover.
Since the magnesium alloy specified for this component is primary AZ91D alloy, it
cannot be truly recycled (meaning reused to produce the same component) but must
be sent to a secondary smelter to produce alloy which is used in alloying aluminum, the
desulphurization of steel and producing secondary magnesium alloys.

Page 12 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 16 7/10/2008 3:00:46 PM


Life Cycle Inventory

Figure 4 – Die Cast Magnesium Engine Cover Process Flow Chart

The mass of the finished magnesium cam cover is 1.89 kg, as shown on the process
flow chart. To produce this finished part, the die casting must have a mass of 2.10 kg, and
4.2 kg of material must be supplied by the primary magnesium producer. The secondary
smelter receives 2.10 kg from the die casting remelt, 0.21 kg from the machining
operation and 1.89 kg at the end of the component life. Since molten magnesium is very
reactive with oxygen in the atmosphere, a cover gas is used by both the primary alloy
producer and the die casting plant. Typically, the cover gas used is sulfur hexafluoride
(SF6). The die casting operation requires a steel die, and its production is included with a
die production loop in the flow chart. In the next section, the energy required for each step
and the resulting carbon footprint for the magnesium die cast component are calculated.

Injection Molded Nylon 66 GF35


The process flow chart for the injection molded nylon 66 GF35 cam cover is shown in
Figure 5. This nylon material has glass fibers added to increase impact strength and
rigidity. While necessary to provide the needed component strength, the glass fibers
will degrade when reused, so this material is typically not recycled, but reused for less
demanding applications.

Carbon Footprint Page 13

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 17 7/10/2008 3:00:50 PM


Life Cycle Inventory

Figure 5 – Injection Molded Plastic Engine Cover Process Flow Chart

The mass of the finished nylon cam cover is 1.58 kg as shown on the process flow
chart. To produce this finished part, the injection molded part must have a mass of
1.76 kg, and 3.52 kg of material is required from the material supplier since 50% of the
material is required for sprues, runners and scrap components. This results in 1.94 kg of
material being reused for other applications. (This is usually referred to as “reuse” rather
than recycling.) At the end of the component’s functional life, these components are
mixed with other non-metallic materials and placed in a landfill. Plastic components are
not normally recycled because the various plastic materials must be separated, and the
cost to accomplish this is excessive. Injection molding also requires a steel die, and its
production is included with a die production loop in the flow chart. The energy required
for each step in the process flow, and the resulting carbon footprint for the injection
molded component is calculated in the next chapter.

Page 14 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 18 7/10/2008 3:00:55 PM


6. Life Cycle Impact Assessment

The third phase of LCA, Life Cycle Impact Assessment, is aimed at evaluating the
contribution of each step of the Life Cycle Inventory to the carbon footprint of the process.
The process flow diagram is divided into the four phases of product life, as described in
the Introduction and shown in Figure 6. The phases of the life of the product are material
production, product manufacture, product use and product disposal.

Figure 6 – The material life cycle. Transport is involved between the stages3.

Most products have a dominant phase of life, a phase which contributes the most toward
the life cycle carbon footprint of the product. One example of this dominant life cycle phase
would be a multiple-story parking garage. The majority of its carbon footprint comes from
the material production phase, in which the concrete and steel needed for the structure are
produced. Once the raw materials are produced, there is little additional contribution to the
carbon footprint during construction of the garage, its use by the public over its life or the
ultimate demolition of the structure. On the other hand, a family automobile has most of its
carbon footprint occur during the use of the vehicle over its lifetime. In fact, more than 80%
of the carbon emissions are the result of the use of the product.

Carbon Footprint Page 15

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 19 7/10/2008 3:00:56 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

In order to determine the carbon footprint of each of the three components that
are the subject of this study, aluminum and magnesium die cast cam covers and an
injection molded nylon cam cover, the process flow diagrams for each component were
placed into spreadsheets so that the energy used and the resulting carbon footprint
could be determined. These spreadsheets and the resulting carbon footprint for each
component are reviewed in the remainder of this section. It should be remembered,
however, that the assumptions for the study that were described earlier have a great
impact upon the results of the study. Conclusions and recommendations concerning the
study are presented in the last section.

Die Cast Aluminum


The Aluminum Die Cast Cam Cover Carbon Footprint calculation is shown in Table
2. Each process step from the flow chart is listed in the left column and described
more fully in the second column. The third column indicates where the mass of the
component is changed due to melt loss during melting or holding of alloy, machining
of the component or the loss of biscuits and runners or scrap parts in the die casting
process. The finished component weight is entered above the “Comments” heading,
and the remaining mass figures are calculated based upon the data in the “Material
Loss” column. These mass amounts are important because the factors for energy used
and carbon footprint relate to the mass of alloy involved.
The next few columns relate to the energy used during each step of the flow chart.
Using reference documents relating to each step, the energy used is calculated in both
megajoules (MJ) and British thermal units (Btu)3-7. In a similar manner, the references
are used to estimate the equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by each step of the
process by multiplying the CO2 factor by the mass of the alloy.
Review of the spreadsheet shows that Material Production for the aluminum die cast
cam cover results in 29.08 MJ of energy use and generates 1.88 kg of CO2 equivalent
emissions. The Product Manufacture phase of the life cycle uses 94.79 MJ of energy
and generates 8.09 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. The Product Use phase, in
which the vehicle is driven 200,000 km at 8.5 km/liter (20 MPG) consumes 1562.59
MJ of energy and generates 128.03 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. This calculation
assumes that the 2.61 kg component is responsible for its proportionate share of the
entire vehicle, which is assumed to weigh 1,360 kg. The Product Disposal phase of the
life cycle, consisting of recovering the aluminum and transporting it to the secondary
smelter 100 miles away, consumes 1.37 MJ of energy and generates an additional 0.09
kg of CO2 equivalent emissions.
As was discussed earlier concerning automobiles, the product use phase of life is
quite dominant in the carbon footprint of the aluminum die cast cam cover. More than
85% of the CO2 equivalent emissions are generated throughout the usable life of the
product. The Material Production phase is responsible for 1.4% of the carbon footprint;
the Product Manufacture phase, where the actual die casting takes place, generates
about 6% of the carbon footprint during the life of the product.

Page 16 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 20 7/10/2008 3:00:57 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Table 2 – Aluminum Die Cast Cam Cover Carbon Footprint


Component Weight (kg) = 2.61 Energy Used Carbon Emissions
Energy Used
Material Loss Mass Usage Factor CO2 Factor CO2 Equivalent
Process Step Comments or Yield (%) (kg) (MJ/kg) (MJ) (Btu) (kgCO2eq/kg) (kg)
Material Production:
Secondary Alloy Production of secondary 380 alloy
Production from recycled scrap 5 3.21 9.00 28.85 27,343 0.58 1.86
Transport alloy ingots to die
Transport casting plant (160 km or 100 miles) 0 3.21 0.074 0.24 225 0.005 0.02
Total 29.08 27,568 0.585 1.88

Product Manufacture:
Reverb melting furnace for ingots
Melting Furnace and remelt of plant scrap 5 5.80 5.40 31.32 29,687 0.48 2.78
Electric holding furnace at the die
Holding Furnace casting machine 0 5.80 3.24 18.79 17,812 0.541 3.14
1,000-ton cold chamber die casting
cell including lubricator, extractor
Die Casting and trim (30 second cycle) 50 2.90 13.40 38.86 36,834 0.618 1.79
Die making, transport of die, steel
recovery, transport of scrap steel,
die steel production and transport
Steel and Die of steel to die maker divided by
Making Loop average die life of 200,000 parts. 0 2.90 1.50 4.35 4,123 0.085 0.25
Transport rough casting to
machining and assembly plant
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 0 2.90 0.074 0.21 203 0.005 0.02
Machining & Part is machined and assembled
Vehicle Assembly into vehicle. 10 2.61 0.103 0.27 255 0.017 0.04
Transport machining fines to
Transport secondary smelter for recycling
machining fines (160 km or 100 miles) 0 0.29 0.074 0.02 20 0.005 0.00
Transport finished vehicle to
retail outlet. 1360 kg (3000 lbs)
Transport vehicle transported for 800 km (500 miles) 0 2.61 0.368 0.96 910 0.026 0.07
Total 94.79 89,846 1.777 8.09

Product Use:
200,000 km of use at an average of
Use in Vehicle 8.50 km/liter (20 MPG) of gasoline 0 2.61 598.62 1562.40 1,480,946 49.05 128.02
Transport component to vehicle
disposal center at end of life
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 0 2.61 0.074 0.19 183 0.005 0.01
Total 1562.59 1,481,129 49.055 128.03

Product Disposal:
End of Life Material recovery operations prior
Recovery to recycling or disposal 2.61 0.45 1.17 1,113 0.029 0.08
Transport recovered aluminum
back to secondary smelter
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 2.61 0.074 0.19 183 0.005 0.01
Total 1.37 1296.34 0.03 0.09

Grand Total 1687.83 1,599,840 51.45 138.09

Carbon Footprint Page 17

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 21 7/10/2008 3:00:57 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Die Cast Magnesium


The Magnesium Die Cast Cam Cover Carbon Footprint calculation is shown in Table
3. Each process step from the flow chart is listed in the left column and described
more fully in the second column. The third column indicates where the mass of the
component is changed due to melt loss during melting or holding of the alloy, machining
of the component or the loss of biscuits and runners or scrap parts in the die casting
process. The finished component weight is entered above the “Comments” heading,
and the remaining mass figures are calculated based upon the data in the “Material
Loss” column. These mass amounts are important because the factors for energy used
and carbon footprint relate to the mass of alloy involved.
Similar to the aluminum die cast component spreadsheet, the next few columns
relate to the energy used during each step of the flow chart. Using reference documents
relating to each step, the energy used is calculated in both megajoules (MJ) and British
thermal units (Btu)3,6,7. In a similar manner, the references are used to estimate the
equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by each step of the process by multiplying
the CO2 factor by the mass of the alloy.

Review of the spreadsheet shows that Material Production for the magnesium die cast
cam cover results in 634.43 MJ of energy use and generates 79.82 kg of CO2 equivalent
emissions. This is significantly higher than the aluminum die cast cam cover because the
magnesium component is produced using primary alloy, which requires much greater
energy usage than the production of the secondary aluminum. In addition to the increased
energy usage, both the primary magnesium producer and the die caster utilize sulfur
hexafluoride (SF6) as a cover gas to prevent oxidation of the molten magnesium alloy.
This gas is one of the worst for global warming potential (GWP). It has a GWP factor of
22,800 over a period of 100 years, which means that it is much worse than an equivalent
amount of CO2. This results in a high amount of CO2 equivalent emissions.

The Product Manufacture phase of the life cycle uses 33.17 MJ of energy and
generates 87.29 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. Again, the high level of emission is the
result of the use of SF6 as a cover gas. The energy required and emissions from the die
making loop are less than for the aluminum die cast component because the die life for
magnesium is 350,000 parts compared to only 200,000 parts for aluminum.

The Product Use phase, in which the vehicle is driven 200,000 km at 8.5 km/liter
(20 MPG), consumes 1131.53 MJ of energy and generates 92.71 kg of CO2 equivalent
emissions. This is lower than for the aluminum component because the magnesium
part weighs only 1.89 kg compared with the 2.61 kg aluminum part. This calculation
assumes that the 1.89 kg magnesium component is responsible for its proportionate
share of the entire vehicle, which is assumed to weigh 1360 kg.

Page 18 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 22 7/10/2008 3:00:58 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Table 3 – Magnesium Die Cast Cam Cover Carbon Footprint


Component Weight (kg) = 1.89 Energy Used Carbon Emissions
Energy Used
Material Loss Mass Usage Factor CO2 Factor CO2 Equivalent
Process Step Comments or Yield (%) (kg) (MJ/kg) (MJ) (Btu) (kgCO2eq/kg) (kg)

Material Production:
Production of primary AZ91D alloy
Primary Alloy from ore using hydroelectric power
Production and SF6 cover gas 5 4.20 150.98 634.12 601,058 19.00 79.80
Transport alloy ingots to die casting
Transport plant (160 km or 100 miles) 0 4.20 0.074 0.31 295 0.005 0.02
Total 634.43 601,352 19.005 79.82

Product Manufacture:
Preheat and melt ingots using elec-
Melting/Holding tricity for preheating and natural gas
Furnace for melting with SF6 cover gas 5 4.20 2.75 11.55 10,948 20.53 86.23
1,000-ton cold chamber die casting
cell including lubricator, extractor
Die Casting and trim (20-second cycle) 50 2.10 8.93 18.75 17,775 0.412 0.87
Die making, transport of die, steel
recovery, transport of scrap steel,
die steel production and transport of
Steel and Die steel to die maker divided by aver-
Making Loop age die life of 350,000 parts. 0 2.10 0.86 1.81 1,712 0.049 0.10

Transport rough casting to machin-


ing and assembly plant
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 0 2.10 0.074 0.16 147 0.005 0.01
Machining & Part is machined and assembled
Vehicle Assembly into vehicle. 10 1.89 0.103 0.19 185 0.017 0.03
Transport machining fines to sec-
Transport ondary smelter for recycling
machining fines (160 km or 100 miles) 0 0.21 0.074 0.02 15 0.005 0.00
Transport finished vehicle to retail
outlet. 1360 kg (3000 lbs) trans-
Transport vehicle ported for 800 km (500 miles) 0 1.89 0.368 0.70 659 0.026 0.05
Total 33.17 31,441 21.044 87.29

Product Use:
200,000 km of use at an average of
Use in Vehicle 8.50 km/liter (20 MPG) of gasoline 0 1.89 598.62 1131.39 1,072,409 49.05 92.70

Transport component to vehicle


disposal center at end of life
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 0 1.89 0.074 0.14 133 0.005 0.01
Total 1131.53 1,072,542 49.055 92.71

Product Disposal:
End of Life Material recovery operations prior
Recovery to recycling or disposal 1.89 0.45 0.85 806 0.029 0.05
Transport recovered magnesium to
secondary smelter
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 4.20 0.074 0.31 295 0.005 0.02
Secondary Alloy
Production Produce secondary alloy for other uses 5 3.99 6.23 24.86 23,562 3.22 12.85
Total 26.02 24662.56 3.25 12.92

Grand Total 1,825.15 1,729,998 92.36 272.75

Carbon Footprint Page 19

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 23 7/10/2008 3:00:58 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

The Product Disposal phase of the life cycle, consisting of recovering the magnesium
and transporting it to the secondary smelter 100 miles away, consumes 26.02 MJ of
energy and generates and additional 12.92 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. This is also
higher than for the aluminum component because the magnesium must be shipped to the
smelter and processed to produce secondary magnesium alloy suitable for alternate uses.
Unlike the aluminum die cast cam cover carbon footprint, the product use phase of
life is not as dominant in the carbon footprint of the magnesium die cast cam cover. Only
33% of the CO2 equivalent emissions are generated by product use throughout the life
of the product. The Material Production phase is also responsible for 32% of the carbon
footprint, and the Product Manufacture phase, where the actual die casting takes place,
generates another 32% of the carbon footprint generated during the life of the product,
because of the need for primary magnesium alloy and the use of SF6 as a cover gas.

Injection Molded Nylon 66 GF35


The Injection Molded Cam Cover Carbon Footprint calculation is shown in Table 4.
Similar to the other spreadsheets, each process step from the flow chart is listed in the
left column and described more fully in the second column. The third column indicates
where the mass of the component is changed due to machining of the component, or
the generation of sprues and runners or scrap parts in the injection molding process.
The finished component weight is entered above the “Comments” heading, and the
remaining mass figures are calculated based upon the data in the “Material Loss”
column. These mass amounts are important because the factors for energy used and
carbon footprint relate to the mass of material involved.
The next few columns relate to the energy used during each step of the process.
Using reference documents relating to each step, the energy used is calculated in both
megajoules (MJ) and British thermal units (Btu)5,6,8. In a similar manner, the references
are used to estimate the equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by each step of the
process by multiplying the CO2 factor by the mass of the material.
Looking at the spreadsheet, it can be seen that Material Production for the injection
molded cam cover results in 355.88 MJ of energy use and generates 19.66 kg of CO2
equivalent emissions. Since the nylon 66 GF35 material cannot be recycled, new material
is required for each cycle of the injection molding machine. Also, nylon is produced from
petroleum by a petrochemical process that requires high inputs of energy and water, and
which produces harmful air emissions of hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) that contribute to smog. The Product Manufacture phase of the life
cycle uses 50.28 MJ of energy and generates 5.66 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions.

Page 20 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 24 7/10/2008 3:00:59 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Table 4 – Plastic Injection Molded Cam Cover Carbon Footprint


Component Weight (kg) = 1.58 Energy Used Carbon Emissions
Energy Used
Material Loss Mass Usage Factor CO2 Factor CO2 Equivalent
Process Step Comments or Yield (%) (kg) (MJ/kg) (MJ) (Btu) (kgCO2eq/kg) (kg)
Material Production:
Transform raw materials into
Polymer Production bulk polymer 3.51 95.7 336.01 318,496 4.93 17.31
Transport bulk polymer to the com-
Transport pounder (160 km or 100 miles) 3.51 0.074 0.26 246 0.01 0.02
Polymer mixed with additives to
Compounder produce Nylon 66 GF 35. 3.51 5.51 19.35 18,338 0.66 2.32
Transport nylon material in totes to
the production facility (160 km or
Transport 100 miles) 3.51 0.074 0.26 246 0.005 0.02
Total 355.88 337,326 5.600 19.66

Product Manufacture:
Molding on 1,000-ton hydraulic
Injection Molding screw injection molding machine 50 1.76 13.73 48.21 45,694 1.570 5.51
Mold making, transport of mold, steel
recovery, transport of scrap steel,
Steel and Mold mold steel production and transport
Making Loop of steel to mold maker 1.76 0.60 1.05 998 0.034 0.06
Transport rough parts to machining and
Transport assembly plant (160 km or 100 miles) 1.76 0.07 0.13 123 0.005 0.01

Transport sprue, runners and scrap


Transport sprue, parts to recycler for other uses
runners and scrap (160 km or 100 miles) 1.76 0.074 0.13 123 0.005 0.01
Machining & Vehicle Part is machined and assembled
Assembly into vehicle. 10 1.58 0.103 0.16 154 0.017 0.03
Transport machining Transport machining fines to recycler
fines for other uses (160 km or 100 miles) 0.18 0.074 0.01 12 0.005 0.00
Transport vehicle Transport finished vehicle to retail outlet 1.58 0.368 0.58 551 0.026 0.04
Total 50.28 47,657 1.662 5.66

Product Use:
200,000 km of use at an average of
Use in Vehicle 8.50 km/liter (20 MPG) of gasoline 1.58 598.62 945.82 896,511 49.05 77.50
Transport component to vehicle
disposal center at end of life
Transport (160 km or 100 miles) 1.58 0.074 0.12 111 0.005 0.01
Total 945.94 896,622 49.055 77.51

Product Disposal:
Recycle sprue,
runners, scrap and
machining fines Grind material for use in other products 1.93 0.3 0.58 549 0.015 0.03
Transport recycled Transport recycled material for other
material uses (160 km or 100 miles) 1.93 0.074 0.14 135 0.005 0.01
Material recovery operations prior to
End of Life Recovery recycling or disposal 1.58 0.45 0.71 674 0.029 0.05
Transport material recovered as "fluff"
Transport for disposal (160 km or 100 miles) 1.58 0.074 0.12 111 0.005 0.01
Landfill Dispose of material in landfill 1.58 0 0.00 0 0.000 0.00
Total 1.55 1,469.34 0.054 0.09

Grand Total 1,353.64 1,283,075 56.37 102.92

Carbon Footprint Page 21

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 25 7/10/2008 3:00:59 PM


Life Cycle Impact Assessment

The Product Use phase, in which the vehicle is driven 200,000 km at 8.5 km/liter
(20 MPG), consumes 945.94 MJ of energy and generates 77.51 kg of CO2 equivalent
emissions. This is lower than for both the aluminum and magnesium components
because the nylon part weighs only 1.58 kg compared with the 2.61 kg aluminum part
and the 1.89 kg magnesium part. This calculation assumes that the 1.58 kg nylon
component is responsible for its proportionate share of the entire vehicle, which is
assumed to weigh 1,360 kg.
The Product Disposal phase of the life cycle consumes 1.55 MJ of energy and
generates an additional 0.09 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. Plastic material is recovered
when metals are recovered from scrap automobiles. This material is mixed with other non-
metallics and separation is not usually cost effective, so the non-metallics, including the
plastics, are normally placed in a landfill.
As was discussed earlier concerning automobiles, the product use phase of life is quite
dominant in the carbon footprint of the injection molded cam cover. More than 75% of the CO2
equivalent emissions are generated throughout the usable life of the product. The Material
Production phase, during which the nylon is produced, is responsible for 19% of the carbon
footprint. The Product Manufacture phase, where the actual injection molding takes place,
generates only about 5% of the carbon footprint generated during the life of the product.

Summary
The carbon footprint for each product is summarized in Table 5. The total carbon footprint
for the aluminum die cast cam cover, in terms of CO2 equivalent, is 138.09 kg. The
magnesium die cast cam cover has a carbon footprint of 272.74 kg of CO2 equivalent. The
injection molded nylon cam cover has a carbon footprint of 102.92 kg of CO2 equivalent.
The injection molded component is somewhat favored in the analysis because of the carbon
footprint allocated during the Product Use phase of the product’s life. The magnesium
component is adversely affected in both the Material Production phase and the Product
Manufacturing phase because of the use of SF6 as a cover gas. In the next chapter, some
interpretation, conclusions and recommendations are provided based upon this study.
Table 5 – Life Cycle Impact Assessment Summary
(kg CO2 Equivalent)
Material Product Product Product
Process and Material Production Manufacture Use Disposal Total
Die Cast Aluminum (2.61 kg) 1.88 8.09 128.03 0.09 138.09
Die Cast Magnesium (1.81 kg) 79.82 87.29 92.71 12.92 272.74
Nylon Injection Molded (1.58 kg) 19.66 5.66 77.51 0.09 102.92

Energy Required (MJ)


Material Product Product Product
Process and Material Production Manufacture Use Disposal Total
Die Cast Aluminum (2.61 kg) 29.08 94.79 1,562.59 1.37 1,687.83
Die Cast Magnesium (1.81 kg) 634.43 33.17 1,131.53 26.02 1,825.15
Nylon Injection Molded (1.58 kg) 355.88 50.28 945.94 1.55 1,353.65

Page 22 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 26 7/10/2008 3:01:00 PM


7. Life Cycle Assessment Interpretation

The last phase of LCA is Interpretation. It is most important and involves an analysis of
major contributions, sensitivity analysis and drawing conclusions from the analysis. It
is this phase that answers the question, “What can be learned from the LCA?” Several
issues that should be considered concerning the data derived from the study are
presented below. Understanding these issues provides additional information which
may affect the initiatives that should be taken as a result of the study.
1. The most obvious issue is the use of SF6 as a cover gas in magnesium die casting.
While necessary to minimize oxidation of the alloy, it adversely affects the carbon
footprint of the entire process. Alternate gases include hydrofluorocarbon-134a
(HFC-134a) or carbon dioxide (CO2). HFC-134a has a global warming potential
(GWP) of 1430, compared to SF6 which has a GWP of 22,800. The GWP of CO2 is
1. Even if more of either of these gases was required and lost to the atmosphere,
the environmental impact would still be much less. If HFC-134a were substituted
for SF6 at the same usage, the total carbon footprint for the magnesium die cast
cam cover would be reduced to 115.02 kg of equivalent CO2.
2. The allocation of carbon footprint during the use of the product based upon the mass
of the component as a percentage of the total vehicle carbon footprint is questionable.
It is common practice for such studies, but this allocation may not be appropriate
when trying to analyze one component versus another. The number of passengers
in the vehicle or even a bag of groceries in the vehicle affects the total mass of the
vehicle more than the difference in mass provided by the alternatives of this study. It
is probably better to examine the other three phases of life when studying alternative
component processes. The carbon footprint of the product use phase is more
appropriately used when comparing various alternatives of the final product design.
3. The disposal of the nylon component in a landfill at the end of its life has zero
contribution to the carbon footprint of the component. Most plastic materials are
very stable and do not degrade, but the social and political consequences of
large volumes of plastic being placed in landfills are becoming a concern. There
is currently a significant discussion in several parts of the world relative to plastic
beverage containers. Alternate uses for recycled plastic are being developed, but
the uses developed so far utilize a very small amount compared to the volume of
material entering the scrap stream. An alternative to placing plastic in landfills is
incineration or waste-to-energy projects. The incineration of plastics generates
significant amounts of greenhouse gases and may even approach the CO2
equivalent emissions caused by the original material production. If the environmental
consequence of incineration is added to the results of this study, the carbon footprint
of plastic injection molding material production, product manufacture and product
disposal become higher than that for the die cast aluminum component.

Carbon Footprint Page 23

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 27 7/10/2008 3:01:00 PM


Life Cycle Assessment Interpretation

4. The current study assumed the use of nylon 66 SF35 material. There are several
other plastic materials that could be used for automotive components. Each of
these materials would have different carbon footprints. Depending on the material
used, the energy required and the resulting carbon footprint could vary widely.
Reference material8 indicates that the usage factor for product manufacture for
other materials could range from less than half of that shown in the study for nylon
material to as much as five times more. This variation indicates that the carbon
footprint from injection molding of many plastic materials is likely to be equal to or
greater than that shown for die cast aluminum components.
5. An opportunity for reduction of carbon footprint in both aluminum and magnesium
die casting is in improving the efficiency of metal melting and holding systems.
Reference data from the U.S. Department of Energy4 indicates that die casting
facilities operate at about 23% overall energy efficiency. Significant opportunities
exist to improve the efficiency of metal melting and holding systems. The selection
of melting and holding equipment, and the operating procedures employed, can
significantly impact the energy used by the plant and the resulting carbon footprint.
In addition, ongoing research sponsored by both NADCA and the U.S. Department
of Energy should be monitored to ensure timely implementation by the die casting
industry of these improved systems.
6. If the yield of the various manufacturing processes could be improved, another
significant reduction in the carbon footprint would occur. If the yield was improved
to 60% by more efficient runner design or decreased scrap, the carbon footprint
for components produced by aluminum die casting is reduced by about 1 kg of
equivalent CO2, or over 10% of the product manufacture phase carbon footprint.
Similar reductions could be expected for both magnesium die casting and for
plastic injection molded components.
Several computer programs are now available to examine the carbon footprint of
alternative manufactured components. These programs will provide a more complete
analysis of the contributions to the carbon footprint of components. They also provide
the ability to ask “what if” questions and perform sensitivity analysis of alternatives.
While this study was completed with the best information that could be found, it is still
fairly simplistic. If NADCA were able to gain access to one or more of these computer
tools, the study could be expanded and validated. However, it remains important to
clearly understand the assumptions made by these programs.

Page 24 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 28 7/10/2008 3:01:01 PM


8. Conclusions and Recommendations

This study of the carbon footprint of automotive components produced by different


materials and processes has provided interesting results. These results should be of
interest to the die casting industry because carbon footprint, for the most part, correlates
directly to energy use. Of course, energy use also correlates directly to manufacturing
cost. The only exception to this found in the study is the enormous carbon footprint
contribution in magnesium die casting that results from the use of SF6 as a cover gas.
While still contributing to the manufacturing cost, the gas does not have such a dramatic
affect on cost as it does on the carbon footprint. With this exception, the following
conclusions and recommendations to the die casting industry for reducing the carbon
footprint of its products are also relevant toward cost reduction.

Conclusions
The following conclusions can be drawn from the results of the study and consideration
of the issues presented in the Interpretation section.
• The greatest contributor to carbon footprint identified in the study is the use of SF6
as a cover gas during the production of the magnesium die cast cam cover.
•N
 eglecting the contribution of Product Use to the total carbon footprint, aluminum
die casting has the lowest carbon footprint because of its use of secondary
aluminum alloys and its ability to be recycled.
• The production of the nylon material in the study contributed much more to the
carbon footprint than material production for aluminum. If the use of SF6 were
discontinued, magnesium production, even for primary alloys, would also be
favorable compared to the production of nylon.
• The Product Manufacture phase of component life was essentially equal for all three
components, except for the use of SF6 for the magnesium cam cover.
• Disposal of plastic is a growing problem. If resistance to landfilling scrap plastic
grows, the recycling or incineration of scrap plastic will significantly increase the
carbon footprint of these components. Corresponding to this, additional energy and
cost will be required to meet more stringent environmental requirements.
• The use of secondary magnesium alloys for automotive components would
significantly reduce the carbon footprint of these components.

Carbon Footprint Page 25

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 29 7/10/2008 3:01:01 PM


Chapter Title

Recommendations
The following recommendations are provided for the die casting industry which will improve
the carbon footprint of its products and help grow the market for die cast components.
1. The use of SF6 as a cover gas for magnesium should be eliminated.
2. The ability to recycle aluminum die castings and their resulting low carbon footprint
should be marketed heavily by the industry.
3. Industry initiatives which reduce energy consumption and increase energy
efficiency should be strongly encouraged, and their contribution to reducing the
carbon footprint of the components should be stressed.
4. The die casting industry should initiate and support the development of material
property data to encourage the use of secondary magnesium alloys. Currently,
primary magnesium alloys are specified for many components due to a lack of
confidence in the material properties of recycled alloy.
5. Additional carbon footprint studies should be considered by NADCA utilizing
software programs that are being developed. These programs will provide a more
complete analysis of the contributions to the carbon footprint for components. They
also provide the ability to ask “what if” questions and perform sensitivity analysis of
alternatives. If NADCA were able to gain access to one or more of these computer
tools, this study could be expanded and validated.

Page 26 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 30 7/10/2008 3:01:01 PM


References

1. “Carbon Footprint,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, www.en.wikipedia.org.


2. “Life Cycle Assessment,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, www.en.wikipedia.org
3. “The CES EduPack Eco Audit Tool – A White Paper,” M. Ashby, N. Ball, and C.
Bream, Granta Design, Cambridge, UK, 2008.
4. “U.S. Energy Requirements for Aluminum Production: Historical Perspective,
Theoretical Limits and New Opportunities,” W. Choat, BCS Incorporated, and J.
Green, Aluminum Consultant, February, 2003.
5. “Life Cycle Analysis of Conventional Manufacturing Techniques: Die Casting,” S.
Dalquist and T. Gutowski, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA, December, 2004.
6. “Aluminum Helps Cut Emissions at the Point of Consumption,” S. Weller, European
Aluminum Association, 2008.
7. “Lifecycle Assessment of Magnesium Component Supply Chain,” A. Tharumarajah
and P. Koltun, CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology, Australia.
8. “An Environmental Analysis of Injection Molding,” A. Thiriez and T. Gutowski, MIT,
Cambridge, MA, USA

Carbon Footprint Page 27

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 31 7/10/2008 3:01:02 PM


Page 28 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 32 7/10/2008 3:01:02 PM


Notes

Carbon Footprint Page 29

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 33 7/10/2008 3:01:02 PM


Notes

Page 30 Carbon Footprint

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 34 7/10/2008 3:01:02 PM


Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 35 7/10/2008 3:01:03 PM
North American Die Casting Association
241 Holbrook Dr.
Wheeling, IL 60090
tel: 847.279.0001 • fax: 847.279.0002
publications@diecasting.org
www.diecasting.org

Extra-CarbonFootprint.indb 36 7/10/2008 3:01:15 PM