Sustainability in Vehicle Surface Treatment Applications

Sustainable Surface Treatment for Lightweight Metals in Automotive Manufacturing

Automotive manufacturers have typically turned to zinc phosphate for their metal pretreatment needs. But tradition is being replaced with a newer, more environmentally friendly process that relies on zirconium oxide.

In this segment of On the Road with Henkel, we take a closer look at how zirconium oxide is advancing corrosion prevention while providing important environmental benefits.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Speaker 1: [00:00:00] Traditionally auto manufacturers have turned to zinc phosphate for their metal pretreatment needs but tradition is being replaced with a newer more environmentally friendly process that relies on zirconium oxide. So we're on the road with Henkel near Detroit, Michigan to learn about how this new technology is advancing corrosion prevention processes while providing important environmental benefits.

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Speaker 2: So for probably 65 or 70 years, automotive customers have used zinc phosphate in to prepare metal car bodies for paint, which contains zinc nickel manganese and phosphate which all have an environmental impact. It takes a significant amount of energy to heat the bath and then it consumes a tremendous amount of water which has to be discharged to the drain and waste treated. Recently, we've developed a zirconium oxide pretreatment that's an alternative to zinc phosphate. This material doesn't contain the same heavy metals that zinc phosphate contains. At Henkel in Madison Heights, we've got a number of different facilities to simulate automotive OEM processes. When we convert a car body line from zinc phosphate to zirconium oxide, the main thing that we do regarding water is we shorten the line. And by shortening the line, a customer can use much less water. In fact, we can reduce water usage by 85 liters per unit or more. Normally, we're heating a 75,000 gallon bath up to say 125 or 130 degrees. So when we operate our process we have no heat whatsoever and we can save about 70% of energy cost. When an automotive company is transitioning from steel to aluminum, there's a variety of different issues that they have to deal with. And with a few minor modifications, we can install zirconium oxide directly into that process and use the existing facilities with very little changes. We expect car bodies to move from, now they're at about 5 to 10% aluminum, they're going to move up to probably about 25% aluminum in car bodies. So it's a large opportunity for weight savings and Henkel is trying to address those through the development of our new products. We reduce consumption of energy, we reduce consumption of water and we're doing all of these things to try to conserve our environment for the next generation.

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[00:02:28] [END OF AUDIO]

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