A report in the Financial Times says Alcan Europe is trying to develop aluminum fuel tanks. Currently fuel tanks are made of steel or plastic.

The Times says tightening emissions regulations in Europe, which will limit even minute amounts of gasoline vapors seeping out through the pores of plastic tanks, could cause trouble in the future. That has Alcan's European operations experimenting with new processing techniques that use hot oil under pressure to soften and then mold aluminum sheet - which is impermeable to gasoline vapors - into the complex shapes required for fuel tanks.

Some techies at Alcan are excited about the prospects, but other industry sources are not yet impressed. A few years ago, tightening emissions regulations caused similar troubles for plastic tanks in the U.S. Some automakers switched back to steel fuel tanks for a model year or two, but then new types of plastic tanks featuring special "barrier" layers were introduced and they moved back to plastic tanks.