The idea is to use porous aluminium in automobiles. Because it is so comparably light the researchers believe it could drastically reduce the carbon footprint of new cars.

It costs less than aluminium sheet or composite carbon fibre cnd could begin production as soon as April. Weight is a serious sticking point for how well a car can curb its emissions.

Foam resin is placed between two 0.15mm aluminium sheets and then heated at over 200C - the result is a material as hard as steel but only 3mm thick. It is highly malleable and can be rolled and curved but its material strength means it is tough to bend out of shape.

Kobe Steel says porous aluminium is up to 80% lighter than steel and 60% lighter than regular aluminium. The problem is the material cannot be welded together, it has to be riveted.

Kobe hopes to sell it to manufacturers to roll out on vehicle interiors. In Japan the average selling price for regular aluminium is $25/m2. Kobe will sell its porous aluminium at $18/m2 — cheaper than composite carbon fiber.