Transfer to SMEs of innovative environment friendly surface treatments for the phasing out of Chromium VI processes in the automotive industry

Chromate (Cr6) plating of light alloys, zinc, and zinc plated steel for the protection of parts against corrosion has been in extensive use for 30 years or so in the automotive industry.

But chromates appear to be highly carcinogenic if ingested or inhaled. They may spread into the atmosphere or into ground water if end-of-life vehicles are dumped in landfills. This is the reason Cr6 according to Annex II of the VHU Directive, might be banned by 2007. Some car makers have already switched to Cr3 which is considered much less toxic than Cr6.

But its toxicity is not zero, and Cr3 might also be banned in the future as well as a number of heavy metal ions. Therefore, the aim of the project is to prepare metal protection SMEs of the automotive sector to switch to zero chromate and even zero chromium processes.

To that end the candidate substitution processes will have to be reviewed, evaluated as to performance and industrial worthiness, for the setting up of training courses and the edition of manuals for SMEs. The final goal of the project is to arise awareness and to bring expertise to executives and supervisors of SMEs willing to phase out Cr6 from their production lines before 2007.