Graphic of a computerized light weight car

Driving Towards Sustainability – Shedding Pounds to Save Energy!

Why Transportation, Why Now? 

Transportation is foundational to human experience. Humanity has evolved from carriages, buggies, and bicycles into dozens of different types of scalable motorized activities. Cars, boats, and planes have amplified our ability to connect with people from all over the world. Of course, today, we have a much more complicated mobility infrastructure than just 100 years ago.

Today, the mobility industry offers some of the best opportunities for sustainable manufacturing. Vehicles (this includes cars, trucks, trains, boats, and planes) are a bit unique as their carbon footprint goes far beyond the sourcing of raw materials and production processes to calculate carbon emissions. Lightweighting in transportation will be vital to reaching our sustainability goals.

The entire lifespan of a vehicle consists of consuming some type of energy (fossil fuels, electricity, etc.), and depending on the expected life of that vehicle, it can be many times the actual carbon footprint of the initial manufacturing.

Why Lightweighting is So Important

So, the transportation industry is looking at ways to reduce emissions at the factory, but also during their product’s lifecycle. A big topic in the business is “lightweighting”. Let’s consider a few facts:

●        There are approximately 100,000 flights around the globe every day.

●        SpaceX is launching and lands rockets on a monthly basis.

●        Tens of thousands of ships on the planet are moving goods and raw materials at any given time.

●        In America alone, there are about 115 million cars on our roads.

These vehicles all have one thing in common. They are all heavy vehicles, with big engines (or large battery banks) that need lots of horsepower to propel them.

Lightweighting in the transportation industry has become the cornerstone of mobility improvements because:

●        Lighter vehicles can accelerate faster.

●        Lighter vehicles can go further.

●        Lighter vehicles can carry more weight.

●        Lighter vehicles get increased miles per gallon or miles per charge.

Can We Reduce Weight and Increase Sustainability? 

Studies have proven that lightweighting in the transportation industry will have significant implications on performance, and that in turn drives more efficiency as lighter vehicles travel further on the same amount of fuel (be it fossil or renewable). This shift will be seen across the mobility industries, first in automotive, then in sectors like marine and aerospace. Sustainable materials that reduce the weight and cost of vehicles will result in some big wins for us all.

Because so many new sustainable materials are bio-based, we’re experiencing an amazing inflection point in the world today where material science is meeting with scalable agricultural supply chains. Similar to how renewable energy costs have fallen to parity with traditional energy production, natural materials are moving towards parity with, or becoming less expensive than, the traditional synthetic & mineral alternatives. The best news is that these natural materials can be substantially lower in weight than the traditional ones. 

Every mode of transportation on the planet will benefit from the lightweighting movement, the bigger the vehicle, the more important lightweighting becomes.

Ultimately consumers are driving demand toward more sustainable transportation. This started with clean energy (like hybrids and electric vehicles) and has evolved into new, lighter, and greener materials. From the manufacturer’s side, the materials revolution will result in a reduction in weight and costs, as well as a cleaner footprint to manufacture. For the consumer, the benefits will span from lower costs of use (less fuel) to safer, longer-lasting vehicles. For the planet, less carbon emissions and a greener future.

Where Can I Start My Journey to Lightweight My Products?

Connect with the Heartland team to discuss options for how you can begin your lightweighting journey.

Join us in creating a carbon negative future!

Heartland Team