WFO, the World Foundrymen Organisation, has chosen to present Volvo’s foundry in Skovde, Sweden with its newly instituted “Environmental Award 2002” for the development of a new casting process that contributes to a reduced environmental impact from production as well as from the completed truck engines.

“It is very gratifying that our environmental efforts, with extensive investments in advanced technology, have been recognised in such a major forum,” says Leif Hultman, manager for Volvo Powertrain in Skovde.

In the new casting method, FPC (Future Process for Casting), the hardening process of the molten metal is accelerated by placing the casting mould in a water-cooled steel container called a “chill mould.” Approximately half of the energy used in the casting process can thereby be recycled. At the same time, the use of moulding sand is reduced, since the moulds can be made smaller.

“The FPC method enables us to save moulding sand, in some cases up to 70%, depending on the casting. The new method also gives us the technical capacity to eventually reduce the risk of odours in the area around the foundry,” says Sven-Erik Dahlberg, head of development at Volvo Powertrain’s foundry in Skovde, and the man who has led the work in developing this patented process.

Casting with the FPC method makes it possible to raise the quality of the castings, while reducing the weight of the cast components. “This, in turn, results in lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions, which naturally also strengthens Volvo’s competitiveness,” adds Sven- Erik Dahlberg.

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The FPC method is currently being used to cast the cylinder heads for Volvo’s 9-litre engines and for some of the 12-litre engines. An initial investment of SEK 100 million has been made in a new production line with a capacity of 6,000 tonnes per year (which can be compared with a total capacity of approximately 84,000 tonnes/year, making this foundry the largest of its kind in northern Europe).

“The long-range objective is to cast a greater number of components using this method, which will undoubtedly live up to its name,” says Sven-Erik Dahlberg. WFO’s environmental prize will be awarded in Korea on October 24.