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Researchers aim to replace copper with aluminum as a conductor in auto power systems

Joseph L. Flatley
February 10, 2011
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As every lonely cat lady with a police scanner knows, the price of copper is as high as it's ever been -- and there is no reason this trend won't continue. Of course, this affects more than those creeps that sneak into basements to steal the plumbing: the aforementioned ductile metal is currently the best conductor for on-board power systems in automobiles. But with any luck this might soon change. In order to replace copper with aluminum in power supply systems, several challenges need to be addressed, including the fact that aluminum creeps as temperatures increase, and the corrosive effect of bringing the two materials together. Among the efforts of Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM) and BMW to bring aluminum into EVs, the LEIKO power plug uses a sheet metal cage and a pressure spring to allow copper and aluminum elements to remain in contact. If all goes according to plan, TUM's Professor Udo Lindemann (not to be confused with Udo Dirkschneider, the diminutive frontman of German heavy metal bands Accept and U.D.O.) predicts that "the high-voltage on-board systems of most electric vehicles to be based on aluminum by 2020." Check out an awesome picture of Dirkschneider after the break.



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