New aluminum wheel alloy debuts
Photo by Brian Taylor.

New aluminum wheel alloy debuts

Rio Tinto says its Revolution-Al alloy is up to 20 percent stronger than the A356.2 alloy.

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January 6, 2020

Global mining and metals production firm Rio Tinto says it has begun receiving orders for its new aluminum wheel alloy known as Revolution-Al.

The company says researchers at its Arvida Research and Development Centre in Quebec, Canada, have spent more than five years developing a car wheel alloy that could be stronger while also cutting fuel consumption, improving safety and handling and superseding “an industry standard no one had bettered for more than four decades.”

London-based Rio Tinto says it received its first order for the new Revolution-Al alloy in September 2019, and that it designed the alloy to be easy to recycle and so it could be used at existing wheel-making facilities.

“We wanted to offer automakers a new, innovative alloy that allowed them, through styling and design, to reduce the weight of the wheels, which is very important to improving fuel efficiency – because, in the end, people want to drive not just the safest but also the greenest and most innovative cars,” states Jerome Fourmann, a technical director at Rio Tinto.

According to Rio Tinto, Revolution-Al’s main improvement is that it is 15 to 20 percent stronger than the current predominant wheel alloy, A356.2. This translates to a 7 percent weight reduction and better fuel efficiency or battery range, says the firm.

Additionally, Revolution-Al can be cast in existing facilities and requires less time to produce a wheel, thereby reducing the cost and increasing the rate of production, says Rio Tinto.

“The current wheel alloy has been around for a long time and now we’re coming to the market with a new way of doing things,” says Rio Tinto Industrial Product and Investment Director Jean-Francois Laplante. “We were super excited when we saw the result.”