Elkem helps lower car industry emissions

In its pursuit of more climate friendly solutions, the car industry is choosing engines made of cast iron to meet the requirements for low CO2 emissions. Elkem Foundry Products supply vital input for modern car engines.

Transport accounts for around one quarter of global CO2 emissions. The greatest contributor is the private car fleet. Both the EU member states and other countries have therefore passed regulations that force through significant reductions in emissions. The EU has adopted regulations that state that all new cars must have maximum emissions of 130 grams CO2 per kilometer in 2015 and 95 grams per kilometer by 2021. The reduction from 2015 to 2021 will be 26 percent. The reduction from the level in 2007 will be 40 percent.

Lighter cars

CO2 emissions are proportional to fuel consumption. In the pursuit of more energy efficient cars there are a lot of factors at play, but two things are the most important: Reducing the weight of cars and increasing the engine’s utilization of fuel. Since the engine is the heaviest part of the car, the engine is also key to more energy efficient cars.

New cars are being built with turbo chargers to increase the energy efficiency of the engine. This means that the engines do not need to be as large, although the higher pressure and temperatures in the engines does mean that they have to be more solid.

Myth on cast iron

Because cast iron is three times as heavy as aluminium, it is a common perception that a cast iron car engine must be heavier than a similar one in aluminum. This is not correct. Cast iron is stronger and stiffer than aluminum and can, therefore, be produced with thinner walls, which makes them lighter.

Environmental benefits

Using cast iron also has other environmental benefits:

  • The production of cast iron is up to ten times less energy intensive than the alternatives.
  • 100 per cent of the cast iron produced with input from Elkem can be recovered.
  • The cast iron industry represents an important part of the recovery industry: 80-90 per cent of the iron that is produced usually comes from recovered scrap.

Less waste – better products

Elkem Foundry Products is always looking for more efficient and environmentally responsible solutions for its production processes. Using renewable energy, recovering heat from the furnaces, and utilizing all residues is part of Elkem Foundry Products’ strategy.

Production mistakes are expensive and not environmentally responsible. Elkem Foundry Products’ job is to produce alloys that improve the production process of iron foundries and steelworks the world over. Technical experts (the service team) from Elkem Foundry Products visit customers around the world to ensure they are using alloys that are suitable for their end products and the production process.

Elkem Foundry Products’ service team gathers several times a year to share experiences. This means that customers always have access to the best practices from around the world. This is one example of how Elkem’s vision of zero waste is disseminated.

A special market manager was appointed in 2014 who specific focuses on the car industry to help them achieve their goals.


Cast iron 
  • Inoculants are added to ensure the cast iron achieves the properties the end product requires. This is ferrosilicon with aluminum, calcium, barium, zircon, strontium or cerium added.
  • Adding Elkem’s alloys enables iron foundries to produce iron products with the best possible properties and with low error margins with respect to mechanical properties, surface quality, machinability and casting mistakes. All foundries are different. Elkem therefore has many different inoculants and around 100 different ferrosilicon- magnesium qualities to choose from.
  • Cast iron has been in use for more than 2,500 years.