Your Next Car Could Be Made From Coal Waste
If we're burning it, we might as well use the waste. A new option: Make ultra-light car engines out of coal fly ash.
- Ariel Schwartz for Fast Company June 1st, 2011
- Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/1756591/coal-waste-could-be-used-for-car-parts
There are few environmental upsides to burning coal--the practice is dirty, it increases greenhouse gas emissions, and it's detrimental to human health. But for now, at least, we're stuck with coal; it will be a long time until we can fully wean ourselves off the stuff. In the meantime, why not do something useful with coal waste?
Nikhil Gupta, a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Brooklyn, has figured out how to manufacture car parts out of fly ash, a ceramic-based byproduct of coal production--and China's largest source of solid industrial waste. The waste product, which usually ends up in landfills (or in accident-prone storage facilities), can be mixed with metals like magnesium and aluminum to create a lightweight substance that is just as strong as the metals by themselves.
According to Gupta, making car parts--like engine covers or mounts--out of the metal-fly ash mix could save fuel (lightweight vehicles use less fuel) as well as cash, since aluminum currently costs about $2 a pound and fly ash is free. Gupta has also simulated what would happen if his fly-ash components were smashed in a car accident at 60 mph. They held up fine.