I was particularly interested in your recent article ‘Driven to action’.
With regard to fuel tanks in particular the steel industry indeed has an opportunity. But your article did not make one important point clear: the disposal of plastic fuel tanks is a major concern in the automotive industry.
After the plastic has been in contact with hydrocarbon fuels it is impossible to remove traces of the hydrocarbon vapour that leaches out. This will happen over many years (like the half-life of radioactivity) and makes it impossible to recycle the plastic in the fuel tank, as this vapour is a major health hazard.
The only way to dispose of these tanks is in a land-fill site, despite mounting legislation against this disposal method. Also, unless the plastic tank is double-skinned (which increases costs), it will fail new US emissions regulations.
The advent of alcohol-based ‘flexifuels’ and tighter emissions and safety legislation will lead to major problems with plastic. So steel fuel tanks, perhaps plated with zinc nickel to reduce corrosion effects and enhance life, will be introduced again in volume in the automotive field, eliminating the problems of recycling and emissions regulations in one step.
A B Dutton