HOME >> Wire Harness in Cars: Copper or Aluminum

Introduction
Copper for its high electricity conductivity, is the most frequently used metal in car wiring. In recent years, with increasing demand for CO2 emission reduction, demand for weight reduction has increased. Meanwhile, the price of copper is soaring. Automakers continue to look for an alternative material to reduce weight and cost. Aluminum is the metal that is replacing copper.

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Benefits of Aluminum Over Copper
Aluminum is lighter
Heavier vehicle requires more power to move, which results in higher greenhouse gas emissions and more consumption of fossil fuels. For all-electric vehicles, heavier weight results in shorter charges and increased charging needs. As aluminum has a lower specific gravity, replace copper wiring with aluminum will reduce vehicle weight which results in improved fuel economy and emissions.
Aluminum is far more affordable
Increased demand as well as reduced production combined to push the rising of copper price. As aluminum has a much lower price, it is an good alternative material for copper.
The Problems with Aluminum 

However, copper will remain dominant for wire harness applications. There are several challenges to overcome when considering using aluminum to replace copper.
1. Lower Electrical Conductivity
Aluminum has lower electrical conductivity than copper. For the same conductivity, it requires a cross section about 60% greater. However, larger diameter requires wider pass-through areas, which increase the difficulty of installation. To be mentioned, the aluminum will still weigh less than copper even with the larger diameter.

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2. Creep
Aluminum tends to creep under the pressure, with the result that the connections loosens over time. This phenomenon is highly related to the temperature of the material. In many high temperature environments, aluminum cannot be used.
3. Corrosion
When exposed to air, aluminum will oxidize. Aluminum oxide is and electrical insulator and must be avoided during electrical termination.
4. Galvanic Corrosion
Terminals of a wire harness generally use brass or copper alloys. When copper terminal are used with aluminum wire, galvanic corrosion will occur.
Anyway, the trend is still toward aluminum wires. Manufacturers such as Delphi are researching to overcome the problems with using aluminum wires. We, a copper recycling machinery manufacturer, are able to provide you with copper cable granulator and wire stripping machine to recycle automotive cable.
 

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