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General Motors Working on Lightweight Magnesium Sheet Metal, Patented Corrosion Resistance Treatment

By Trevor Dorchies | October 23, 2012
One of General Motors' goal is to reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel efficiency. Today GM announced that it's currently working on a thermal-forming process and a corrosion resistance treatment in-house for lightweight magnesium sheet metal. Magnesium is 33 percent lighter than aluminum and 75 percent lighter than steel, and this use and treatment of magnesium allows for it to be substituted for steel or aluminum. This is especially good news for truck owners as Chevrolet currently doesn't offer any competitive fuel saving technologies in its offerings. For starters, the magnesium sheet metal panels are heated up to 842 degrees but still rely on traditional panel forming methods. This allows the sheet panels to be molded into an exact shape that won't buckle or fracture under pressure. GM has already tested a rear deck lid that included a magnesium inner panel and it withstood a total of 77,000 punches from a robot and 551-pound impact drops without showing any signs of weakness. The use of magnesium inner panel as opposed to a steel one saves 2.2 pounds on its own. The use of magnesium in GM parts isn't a new thing. Steering wheels and engine cradles are made with this metal. This is the first time an automaker is branching out and using magnesium for body paneling and other structural features. The United States Automotive Materials Partnership is estimating that by the year 2020, 350 pounds of magnesium will supersede 500 pounds of steel and 130 pounds of aluminum used per vehicle. This is good for an overall weight reduction of 15 percent and as a result, can save anywhere between nine and 12 percent in fuel consumption. The corrosion system that's being developed alongside the magnesium panels withstood 10 straight weeks of 24-hour environmental testing. This included exposure to salt spray, 100 percent humidity, and extreme temperatures. Both the magnesium panels and the corrosion resistance treatment are still in testing stages so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. What say you? Do you think the use of magnesium sheet panels will help keep the V-8 alive longer? Should Chevy moves towards an engine like Ford's EcoBoost mill? Tell us what you think in the comment section below. Source: General Motors