A new graphic shows how elements in the periodic table are used to construct a car. Created by auto parts manufacturer GMB North America, one of the largest global manufacturers of original-equipment and aftermaket automotive parts, the graphic shows how various elements are used in vehicle manufacturing. To simplify the information, elements are colour-coded to indicate their use.
Aluminium is used extensively in the modern automobile. The obvious uses are body panels and alloy wheels. However, it’s also used to reduce the weight of numerous components, from engine blocks and cylinder heads to control arms and battery cables.
The pearl pigment of bismuth oxychloride was used in automobile paint for a short time, between 1998 and 2000. It went the way of lead and uranium, both once used in automobile paint. Nowadays, some free-cutting steel is being produced with bismuth, and that steel is used in engine parts.
Calcium carbide is an important mineral in the production of steel.
Carbon is used in countless ways in a modern automobile, with the most visible use being carbon fibre, which is used for everything from decoration to vehicle frames and body panels.
Chlorine is used to make PVC, which is used for mouldings, trim parts, and also as an underbody coating. It’s also used to make hydrochloric acid, which is used in a variety of industrial processes.
Gold is often used in vital electrical system components, such as the circuitry that fires airbags.
Many vehicular parts and assemblies are leak-tested using helium. Additionally, helium is often used in controlled atmosphere brazing, a manufacturing process for many automotive components.
Magnesium alloys are commonly used in subframes, rear-link arms, oil pans, bonnets, trunks and liftgates, often to reduce weight.
Platinium is a key component in catalytic converters because of its natural resistance to heat and corrosion. In the United States, the auto industry uses more platinum than any other industry.