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2. Products that accelerate more sustainable lifestyles

We are committed to manufacturing products that advance sustainable lifestyles. Our steel is an essential component of countless products Americans depend on in their daily lives, including automobiles, appliances and packaging. The role steel plays in the sustainability strategies of our customers and these products often goes unrecognized. Steel not only allows products to be lighter, which results in reduced carbon emissions, but it is also infinitely and easily recyclable. Additionally, compared to competing materials, steel has a smaller environmental footprint. 

Why is this important to us?

We believe steel plays an important role in the circular economy. Steel is a critical component of the products that we rely on in our modern lives. As a leading steel producer in North America, we have a responsibility to demonstrate the sustainable life cycle of steel and continue to innovate with our current range of steel products.  

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

We must create products that meet our customers’ business and sustainability goals. In the automotive market, car manufacturers in the U.S. are required to make their cars more fuel efficient than ever before, often by making them lighter, while maintaining safety standards. Years of successful innovation have put steel at an advantage here, and our industry must maintain this leadership.

What do we need to do?

To maintain our market leadership, we regularly invest in continued product innovation. This means continually making stronger and lighter steel that meets our customers’ expectations. We also must work with our stakeholders to understand their specific needs and create solutions to meet new sustainability goals. We also have the opportunity to demonstrate how steel’s environmental footprint is smaller than competing materials, and will continue to drive industry leading life cycle analysis.  

What is the potential to create value?

Steel is the answer to many environmental challenges. Steel creates societal value in that it is strong, safe and easily and infinitely recyclable. One ton of steel produces less CO2 than aluminum, magnesium or carbon fiber over its whole lifetime. Recent innovations, such as the high-strength steels developed for the automotive market, have advanced our potential to make cars lighter, reduce air emissions and help customers meet increasingly stringent government regulations.   

2016 Highlights


In 2016, ArcelorMittal committed $239 million towards global research and development efforts.

Globally, 30 percent of our research and development spend is focused on the automotive market.

 

 

In 2016, ArcelorMittal globally launched 37 new products that contribute to more sustainable lifestyles. ArcelorMittal also conducted 19 new research programs and completed 6 new life cycle analysis studies that related to sustainable lifestyles. 

Case studies: Sustainable products

Innovating automotive solutions

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The automotive industry is facing increasingly aggressive safety standards and new, stringent tailpipe emissions and fuel economy standards implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The standards will require a footprint-based, fleet-average fuel economy of 54.5 MPG for new vehicles by 2025. In light of these changes, ArcelorMittal is fervently innovating to find unique opportunities to improve the crash performance of vehicles through advanced steel solutions including lightweight hot-stamped materials designed for mass production. 

ArcelorMittal and ArcelorMittal Tailored Blanks have been engaged in co-engineering discussions with FCA US LLC and Magna International’s Cosma International operating group since 2012 to identify applications that would reduce the weight of the next Chrysler Pacifica while meeting or exceeding crash test requirements and minimizing costs to the consumer.

Together, the partners identified the side structure of the vehicle’s body-in-white, specifically the door ring and b-pillar, as the area of most opportunity for weight reduction and improved safety performance for this mainstream, high-volume family vehicle. After 36-months, 2,000 engineering hours and approximately 300 design iterations, the team agreed on one central concept –the world’s first five-piece hot-stamped laser-welded door ring and b-pillar that first appeared in March 2016 in the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. This solution offers the perfect balance of ridged high-strength steel and more pliable energy absorption material that would allow the body of the vehicle to safely manage crash energies in small offset and side impact crashes without a significant impact to the overall weight of the vehicle. 

In order to meet the production needs for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and allow for production expansion to meet additional demand from other automakers for the product, ArcelorMittal invested heavily in the development of a dedicated, state-of-the-art processing facility in Woodstock, Ontario. This facility opened in 2015 and allowed ArcelorMittal to amplify the central innovation and meet the high volume and productivity demands of the mainstream application. 

The facility’s current capacity will support the annual production of more than two million hot-stamped laser-welded blanks using two continuous ablation and welding systems and a dedicated quality lab. The facility has the ability to further expand to help absorb market demand.

Through the use of ArcelorMittal’s patented and award-winning laser ablation process, the company was able to combine two high-strength steel grades - Usibor®, a hot stamping grade that supports weight reduction in advanced shapes that require higher tensile strength, and Ductibor®, an energy-absorbing grade designed specifically to complement Usibor® in hot-stamping applications and offer ductility – to better manage the crash energies. This marks the first time these two steels were used together in North America. During a small offset and side impact crash test, the energies could effectively be distributed around the passengers, while still maintaining a safe vehicle cabin. 

Through the co-engineering process, and the ability to apply ArcelorMittal’s patented and award-winning laser ablation process, the partners were able to dramatically reduce the weight of the vehicle by 8.64 kg/19 lbs. and help improve the vehicle crash performance, especially for the challenging narrow offset and side impact crash requirements.  This innovation also contributed to the Chrysler Pacifica being the first vehicle in the minivan class to achieve an IIHS 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus award, as well as being named Utility Vehicle of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show.


VIDEO: Co-engineering the Chrysler Pacifica

Reducing greenhouse gases requires a life cycle approach

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At ArcelorMittal, we are innovating new automotive steel products and solutions that provide strength and mass reduction, while helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of vehicles. Government regulations have become more stringent in recent years. The 2025 vehicle fleet must improve fuel economy and GHG emissions to about 54.5 mpg. Therefore, automakers are making a number of modifications to vehicles. One is incorporating materials to reduce weight, thereby reducing fuel needs and ultimately GHG emissions. These materials could include advanced high-strength steels (AHSS), aluminum or carbon fiber, among others. Each material contributes to vehicle lightweighting and improves fuel economy. However, each does so at a different cost to the manufacturer – and to the environment. 

If we want to know how “green” a vehicle truly is, we have to measure emissions over its entire life cycle. This is done using a process called Life Cycle Analysis, or LCA. LCA looks at total emissions generated during the three stages of a vehicle’s life – production, drive phase and disposal. 

Right now, regulations only consider tailpipe emissions generated during the drive phase of a vehicle. However, the production phase of a vehicle makes up nearly 20 percent of total GHG emissions for internal combustion engines. That figure more than doubles to 47 percent for battery electric vehicles. If we don’t consider production phase emissions when evaluating environmental impact, we may choose lightweighting materials that emit more GHGs during their production than they save during the vehicle’s drive phase. This will result in a huge and irreversible environmental mistake. 

In collaboration with Steel Market Development Institute and outside experts, we conducted life cycle analyses on steel. In fact, there have been many scientific studies done in the last decade, including a 2016 Production Phase Emissions study. This study found aluminum produced in North America emits four to five times more GHGs than steel. Additionally, aluminum requires seven times more energy to produce than steel. Dr. Roland Geyer developed the University of California Santa Barbara Automotive Materials GHG Comparison Model V4, or UCSB Model. This 2007 study calculated GHG emissions and energy over the entire life cycle of a vehicle. Peer-reviewed and publicly available, the study found the majority of aluminum-intensive vehicles result in higher overall lifetime GHG emissions and significantly higher production phase emissions in every vehicle class tested. 

The steel industry, while confident with the realistic modeling assumptions employed in the UCSB Model, recognized some might question only using inputs from our industry. The study was broadened in 2016 to include LCA model parameters that, frankly, favored aluminum-intensive vehicles. It also included a “Monte Carlo” assessment which ran the LCA analysis 5,000 times with different parameters, using assumptions from both the steel and aluminum industries. This was a big endeavor - a conclusive effort that hadn’t been run previously. 

The findings show steel-intensive vehicles still had lower total emissions versus aluminum in approximately 70 percent of the potential scenarios. When we take into account an entire annual fleet of sedans, SUVs or pickup trucks, the aluminum-intensive option versus AHSS results in about 1.5 billion kg more GHGs per vehicle class.

When we look at the disposal stage of a vehicle, steel is recognized as the most recycled material on the planet. One of the most amazing things about steel is that its properties allow it to be recycled continually into any number of products, with no loss of strength or performance. The physical properties of automotive aluminum, however, prevent it from being recycled the same way. Automotive aluminum must be sorted and recycled to the same grade, which is time consuming and expensive. In their quest for materials to build lighter cars, automakers have grabbed headlines by replacing steel with aluminum. For consumers and the environment, however, a wholesale shift to alternative materials is not occurring. 

Automakers are still capitalizing on the value and performance of advanced steel grades and other technologies to meet regulatory requirements. In fact, AHSS is the largest growing material to replace the traditional mild steels used in the early 2000s. Steel also provides the best value by allowing automakers to maintain their existing manufacturing and repair infrastructure. At ArcelorMittal, we are innovating new automotive products and solutions that further prove why steel is the sustainable choice.