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The lightweight materials market has been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% over the next five years, with the industry set to hit a market value of $153 billion in 2017.
The use of lightweight materials in transportation has become more and more popular due to the benefits they offer to this sector. The volume for lightweight materials in transportation should reach 57.2 million tons in 2012 and 79.2 million tons in 2017, a CAGR of 6.7%.
The aircraft industry was the first to introduce lightweight materials (e.g., aluminium alloys) on a widespread scale beginning in the 1920s. This continues today with the adoption of lightweight composite materials.
Other industries, particularly the automotive industry, did not embrace lightweight materials as rapidly as the aircraft industry. However, in the 1990s automakers doubled their use of aluminium in an effort to reduce vehicle weight to meet federal fuel economy standards.
While transportation fuel consumption is not exclusively a function of weight, with other factors such as engine efficiency and air/rolling resistance playing their parts as well, minimizing weight through the use of advanced materials is a key strategy for reducing fuel consumption. An estimated 75% of vehicle energy consumption is related to factors associated with weight.
Reducing the weight of a vehicle component by using lightweight materials has a multiplier effect on overall vehicle weight and, hence, fuel use: As vehicle weight declines, tires and suspension can become lighter, and the loads imposed on the chassis are reduced, allowing a reduction in chassis weight.
All else being equal, it has been estimated that for every 10% eliminated from a vehicle's total weight, fuel consumption declines by 7%. In addition, for every kilogram of weight reduced in a vehicle, carbon-dioxide emissions are reduced by a total of 20 kg.
Motor vehicles, particularly passenger cars and light trucks, make up by far the largest end-user segment. Global consumption in this sector was 164 million tons in 2010 and is expected to increase at a 2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach nearly 182 million tons in 2015.
For more information on the lightweight materials market, see the latest research: Lightweight Materials Market
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