[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
SMDI design study produces twist beam concept that reduces mass ~30% relative to baseline assembly
December 06, 2013
|Twist beam assembly mass comparison. Click to enlarge.|
Results of a new design study for a lightweight steel proof-of-concept twist beam (used in suspensions) by the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Automotive Applications Council indicate that the preferred U-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 tubular construction with DP780 and SPFH540 sheet achieves a 30.0% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly, at a 12–15% premium in manufacturing cost at production volumes of 30,000 to 250,000 vehicles per year, respectively.
An S-Beam Design based on 22MnB5 sheet, DP780 tube and HSLA550 materials was predicted to have a 14.9% mass reduction relative to the baseline assembly. The objective of the study was to develop a twist beam design achieving a 15–25% mass reduction with equivalent structural and elasto-kinematic performance relative to the baseline design at a ≤ 10% cost premium.
New simple aluminum-based hydride for hydrogen storage
November 11, 2013
Japanese researchers report the development of a simple-structured, aluminum-based interstitial hydride for hydrogen storage in a paper in the AIP Publishing journal APL Materials. Their compound, Al2CuHx, was synthesized by hydrogenating Al2Cu at an extreme pressure of 10 gigapascals (1.5 million pounds per square inch) and a high temperature of 800 °C (1,500 °F).
Lightweight interstitial hydrides with high hydrogen content—such as Mg-based hydrides, alanates, borohydrides, and amino boranes—have been proposed as a safe and efficient means for storing hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles, but so far, none have proven practical as a hydrogen repository.
JRC study finds 8 metals for low-carbon energy technologies at risk of shortages; EVs, wind and solar, and lighting the applications of most concern
November 04, 2013
A new European Joint Research Centre (JRC) study looking into the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of low-carbon energy technologies found that eight metals were at high risk of shortages. The applications, i.e. technologies, of particular concern as a result are electric vehicles, wind and solar energy, and lighting. The risk arises from EU dependency on imports, growing demand worldwide and geopolitical reasons.
The study builds on a 2011 effort which looked into the six key applications of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: wind, solar, nuclear fission, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the electricity grid. In the new study, these were re-assessed and considered along with 11 other technologies—including fuel cells, electricity storage, electric vehicles and lighting—treated in the new report, this time evaluated on the expected supplies of the metals and not on the current situation as in the first report.
Canada awards $30M to 10 automotive R&D projects; from electrified powertrains to hot stamping
October 28, 2013
The Government of Canada has awarded C$30 million (US$29 million) through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative to 10 university-industry partnerships to advance innovative automotive technologies. With a total project value of more than C$52 million (US$50 million), the funding includes some $22 million from industry and other partners.
The largest award from APC is $8,928,200 to the McMaster University-Chrysler partnership (earlier post) for the development of next generation electrified powertrains. (Earlier post.) However, the selected projects include a range of technologies from hot stamping of parts to hydrogen fuel cell stacks.
Volvo Car Group testing lightweight structural energy storage material applied in trunk lid and plenum cover
October 17, 2013
Volvo Car Group—the only automaker participating in a 3.5-year EU-funded project developing a prototype material which can store and discharge electrical energy and which is also strong and lightweight enough to be used for car parts (earlier post)—has created two components for the testing and further development of the technology. These are a trunk lid and a plenum cover, tested within the Volvo S80.
The material combines carbon fibers and a polymer resin, creating a very advanced nanomaterial, and structural supercapacitors. The material can be moulded and formed to fit around the car’s frame in locations such as the door panels, the trunk lid and wheel bowl, substantially saving on space.
New thermoplastic-graphene nanoribbon composite could offer lighter, more effective natural gas storage for vehicles
October 11, 2013
|An electron microscope image shows graphene nanoribbons embedded in a block copolymer. Image by Changsheng Xiang. Click to enlarge.|
A new composite material created at Rice University is nearly impervious to gas and may lead to lighter and more efficient storage of compressed natural gas for vehicles. By adding modified, single-atom-thick hexadecyl-functionalized low-defect graphene nanoribbons (HD-GNRs) to thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the Rice lab of chemist James Tour made the resulting material far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas.
In an open access paper in the journal ACS Nano, Tour and his colleagues at Rice and in Hungary, Slovenia and India reported that nitrogen gas effective diffusivity of the TPU was decreased by three orders of magnitude with only 0.5 wt% GNRs.
Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid
September 24, 2013
Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.
However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.”
ORNL study finds aluminum-intensive vehicles can deliver up to 29% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to typical steel-bodied vehicle
September 20, 2013
|Lifecycle energy findings. Source: Sujit Das, ORNL. Click to enlarge.|
A lifecycle study of aluminum-intensive vehicles by Sujit Das at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) found that an aluminum-intensive vehicle can achieve up to a 32% reduction in total lifecycle energy consumption, and up to a 29% reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to a typical vehicle on the road today which uses traditional and high-strength steel in the body construction.
The study, underwritten by The Aluminum Association, performed a full cradle-to-grave analysis (primary metal production; autoparts manufacturing and assembly; use; semi-fabrication material production; transportation; and end-of-life metals recycling) on three modeled vehicle types: a baseline steel vehicle; a lightweight steel vehicle (LWSV); and an aluminum intensive vehicle (AIV).
ARPA-E selects 33 projects for $66M in awards; advanced biocatalysts for gas-to-liquids and lightweight metals
September 19, 2013
The US Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is awarding around $66 million to 33 projects under two new programs. One program, Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE, earlier post), provides $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.
The other program, Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS, earlier post), provides $32 million to 18 projects to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles. The funding opportunity announcements for both programs were released earlier this year in March.
Jaguar announces new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture; C-X17 concept
September 09, 2013
|The C-X17 concept is the first revealed implementation of the new iQ[Al] architecture. Click to enlarge.|
Along with the unveiling of its C-X17 concept car on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Jaguar announced a new advanced aluminium monocoque architecture. The C-X17 concept sports crossover is a study to demonstrate the capabilities of this new architecture.
Codenamed iQ[Al], the architecture will form the basis for a new range of future Jaguars, the company said; the first product will be a mid-size premium C/D segment sedan on sale in 2015. This will be the first aluminium monocoque product in the segment. Using the new architecture, Jaguar expects to deliver vehicles with class-leading performance, including top speeds of more than 300 km/h (186 mph), and emissions lower than 100g of CO2 per km.
DOE awards $45M to 38 advanced transportation technology projects; $3M from the Army
September 04, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award more than $45 million to 38 new projects that accelerate the research and development of advanced vehicle technologies. Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance between the Energy Department and the Department of the Army, the Army is contributing an additional $3 million in co-funding to support projects focused on lightweighting and propulsion materials, batteries, fuels, and lubricants.
The 38 projects span five major areas: advanced lightweighting and propulsion materials; advanced batteries; power electronics; fuels and lubricants; and efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
Integral Technologies and BASF jointly to explore North American market for automotive applications of Electriplast conductive thermoplastics
August 28, 2013
Integral Technologies, Inc. and wholly owned subsidiary ElectriPlast Corp. (earlier post) signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with BASF Corporation jointly to explore the North American market for ElectriPlast’s conductive thermoplastics.
BASF and ElectriPlast will jointly explore the potential to utilize ElectriPlast materials as a lightweight solution for applications requiring electrical shielding, while reducing weight to help meet CAFE requirements initially targeting a broad array of automotive applications. ElectriPlast is non-corrosive and weather-resistant.
ORNL finding on surface properties of complex oxides films could lead to better batteries and catalysts
August 14, 2013
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), with colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Fudan University, have discovered that key surface properties of complex oxide films are unaffected by reduced levels of oxygen during fabrication—an unanticipated finding with possible implications for the design of functional complex oxides.
The discovery, which may result in better batteries, catalysts, electronic information storage and processing devices, is reported in a paper published in the RSC journal Nanoscale.
Researchers demonstrate that bottom-up self-assembly of active materials for batteries can improve performance
August 10, 2013
|Cycle performances of MIONCs, RAIONs, and CBIOs at a current density of 0.1 A g−1. Credit: ACS, Lee et al. Click to enlarge.|
A team in South Korea has developed a bottom-up self-assembly approach for the preparation of mesoporous iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticle clusters (MIONCs) for use as an anode material in Li-ion batteries. The unique structure endowed the MIONCs with enhanced capacity retention, rate capability, and Coulombic efficiency, the researchers reported in a paper published in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
More importantly, they noted, the work showed that changing the geometric configuration of the material can result in stable battery performance through the confinement of SEI (solid−electrolyte interphase) layer formation. They suggested that their strategy can be considered a model framework and applied to other metal oxide nanoparticles (NPs) such as Co3O4 and NiO with high specific capacities. These findings further confirm that bottom-up self-assembly of active materials can improve battery performance, they concluded.
BMW Group presents prototype of i8 plug-in hybrid; first use of new 3-cylinder engine
August 07, 2013
|Prototype BMW i8 at the track. Click to enlarge.|
BMW i presented a prototype of its second production vehicle, the i8 (earlier post), at a driving event at the BMW Group’s Miramas test track in France. Following the world debut of the first production model, the battery-electric urban-focused BMW i3 (earlier post), the BMW Group’s next step will be to address the sports car segment with the plug-in hybrid BMW i8. The BMW i8 will make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month and arrive in BMW showrooms in 2014.
Calculated using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the average fuel efficiency of the BMW i8 at model launch will be less than 2.5 liters/100 km, which equates to approximately 95 miles per US gallon, with CO2 emissions of less than 59 grams per kilometer.
EDAG study finds NanoSteel sheet steels can achieve up to 30% weight reduction in automotive structures
August 05, 2013
|NanoSteel body-in-white using the three grades of steel. Click to enlarge.|
The NanoSteel Company released the results of an automotive light-weighting study it had commissioned from EDAG, Inc., an independent engineering firm, demonstrating the potential for the company’s Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) (earlier post) to enable a 30% reduction of weight in the BIW (body-in-white) structure of a baseline mass-market sedan.
EDAG used methodology in the study consistent with recent similar studies, including NHTSA’s “Light Weight Vehicle (LWV)” study in 2012, and WorldAutoSteel’s “Future Steel Vehicle” design in 2011. The NHTSA LWV study was a comprehensive redesign of the 2011 Honda Accord that met North American competitive targets for safety and other significant vehicle attributes while optimizing for weight savings. EDAG duplicated the criteria and methods used then have been duplicated in that study to investigate NanoSteel’s materials.
New high-temperature ceramic capacitor could reduce cooling needs in power electronics for hybrids and EVs
August 02, 2013
Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK have developed a new lead-free, high-temperature ceramic capacitor that could improve the efficiency and reliability of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Hybrid and electric vehicles rely on high efficiency power conversion and management, with automotive power electronics representing an emerging £40-billion (US$61-billion) global market, NPL noted. The power electronics found in vehicles today require cooling because of limitations in the temperature rating of components such as capacitors, which are used to store electrical energy. This is a disadvantage as the extra cooling systems add weight to the vehicles, reducing efficiency and reliability.
BYU friction bit joining process bonds aluminum to cast iron
July 15, 2013
Engineers at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah and the University of Ulsan in South Korea have used friction bit joining (FBJ) to bond dissimilar combinations of aluminum alloy A356 and grey cast iron.
The process of friction bit joining uses a small, consumable bit to create a solid-state joint between metals. The method was invented by BYU manufacturing engineering technology professor Michael Miles and retired BYU professor Kent Kohkonen, in their collaboration with local Orem-based company MegaStir Technologies, a joint venture between Schlumberger and Advanced Metal Products. MegaStir provides both low- and high-temperature friction stir welding (FSW) systems.
UK government and industry to invest >$1.5B in Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for low carbon vehicles; technology roadmaps for 5 priority areas
July 12, 2013
The UK government and automotive industry are investing £500 million (US$755 million) each over the next 10 years in an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to research, to develop and to commercialize the technologies for the low carbon vehicles of the future. Backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, the commitment is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.
The investment forms part of the report “Driving success – an industrial strategy for growth and sustainability in the UK automotive sector”, published jointly by the government and industry. It follows the recent plans for construction, aerospace and other key sectors to secure sustainable future growth in the economy.
Renault makes public its lifecycle study of Fluence ICE vs Fluence EV
July 11, 2013
|Renault’s comparison of the carbon footprint of EV and ICE vehicles over production, operation and end of life. The EV footprint (Fluence Z.E.) is shown with both UK and French grid mixes. Click to enlarge.|
Renault recently made public the findings of an internal study, published first in October 2011, detailing and comparing the lifecycle assessments (LCAs) of the battery-electric and two internal combustion engined versions (gasoline and diesel) of the Renault Fluence. The study used the series production versions launched in 2011, with the assumption of operation for 150,000 km (93,205 miles). (Since the BEV version has a shorter range, Renault noted, the way in which the miles are accumulated could differ from that of the ICE vehicles.)
The publication gives the opportunity for an “apples-to-apples” comparison between the environmental impacts of the two types of powertrains: same manufacturer, same model, same boundary conditions. Nevertheless, Renault noted, the study is contrasting a new technology (EVs) with a well-developed one; “environmental progresses are expected in a short term thank to key process improvement and massification of the production.”
Ford advancing rapid freeform sheet metal forming technology; CAD-driven tool may reduce costs and delivery time for parts
July 03, 2013
Ford Motor Company is developing a new form of manufacturing technology—rapid freeform sheet metal forming—that has the potential to reduce costs and delivery time for sheet metal parts needed in smaller quantities. The project is part of a three-year, $7.04-million US Department of Energy grant to advance next-generation, energy-efficient manufacturing processes. (Earlier post.)
Led by Ford, other collaborators include Northwestern University, The Boeing Company, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn State Erie. Five innovative manufacturing projects were awarded a total of $23.5 million by DOE in March to advance clean manufacturing and help US companies increase their competitiveness.
New ArcelorMittal lightweight car door solutions; up to 34% weight savings over existing steel doors in medium-term
June 25, 2013
|ArcelorMittal lightweight door. Click to enlarge.|
ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company, unveiled its new ultra-lightweight car door solutions. Using steels and technology currently available, ArcelorMittal’s global R&D automotive team has demonstrated that a 27% weight and cost saving can be achieved without compromising safety and structural requirements.
By looking ahead to new advanced high strength steels and technology that will come to market over the next few years, the team has identified additional solutions that will deliver even greater weight savings of up to 34% compared to existing steel car door solutions.
White House announces new commitments in support of Materials Genome Initiative
June 24, 2013
The Obama Administration and academic and industry partners announced a series of commitments in support of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI, earlier post), a public-private endeavor that aims to cut in half the time it takes to develop novel materials that can fuel advanced manufacturing.
The MGI, overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, helps to coordinate Federal materials science research across multiple agencies and encourages private-sector and academic researchers to develop and share basic materials science discovery data to speed innovation—much as geneticists accelerated the Human Genome Project by openly sharing basic DNA sequence data. Newly announced commitments are:
Ford LCA harmonization study clarifies benefits of lightweighting for vehicle life cycle energy use and GHG emissions
May 29, 2013
|Correlation between weight reduction and life cycle primary energy demand for (a) component and (b) total vehicle scenarios. Credit: ACS; Kim and Wallington. Click to enlarge.|
While reducing vehicle weight (lightweighting) by replacing steel and iron with alternatives such as aluminum, magnesium, and composites decreases fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions during vehicle use, it can increase energy consumption and GHG emissions during vehicle production.
Hyung Chul Kim and Timothy J. Wallington at Ford Motor’s Systems Analytics and Environmental Sciences Department set out to clarify the lifecycle benefits of vehicle lightweighting in a meta-analysis of previously published life cycle assessments (LCAs). While numerous studies assay the benefits of lightweighting, the wide variety of assumptions used makes it difficult to compare results from the studies, the pair noted in their paper, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
New MOF could enable more efficient and cost-effective production of high octane gasoline
May 24, 2013
An international team of researchers has developed a new metal-organic framework (MOF) that might provide a significantly improved method for separating hexane isomers in gasoline according to their degree of branching. A paper on the work is published in the journal Science.
Created in the laboratory of Jeffrey Long, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, the MOF features triangular channels that selectively trap only the lower-octane hexane isomers based on their shape, separating them easily from the higher-octane molecules in a way that could prove far less expensive than the industry’s current method for producing high-octane fuel. The Long laboratory and UC Berkeley have applied for a patent on the MOF Fe2(bdp)3. (BDP2– = 1,4-benzenedipyrazolate)
MIT team devises approaches for practical carbon-nanotube-coated carbon fiber; stronger, more electrically conductive
May 20, 2013
|MIT scientists demonstrated two approaches for growing CNTs on carbon fiber without degrading the fiber strength. Credit: ACS, Steiner et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers at MIT have demonstrated two approaches for producing carbon fibers coated in carbon nanotubes without degrading the underlying fiber’s strength. A paper on the work, which could result in carbon-fiber composites that are not only stronger but also more electrically conductive, is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Hierarchical carbon fibers (CFs) sheathed with radial arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are promising candidates for improving the intra- and interlaminar properties of advanced fiber-reinforced composites (such as graphite/epoxy) and for high-surface-area electrodes for battery and supercapacitor architectures, the authors note.
Roskill forecasts increasing dependence of Li market on batteries; switch from portable electronics to hybrids
|Consumption of lithium in rechargeable batteries by end use, 2012-2017, kt LCE. Source: Roskill. Click to enlarge.|
In a forecast of the Lithium market through 2017, Roskill Information Services estimates that rechargeable batteries will, in the base-case growth scenario, contribute 75% of the growth in forecast lithium demand to 2017, when total demand for lithium is expected to reach slightly more than 238,000t lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Roskill is an international metals and minerals market research firm.
Batteries accounted for 27% of global lithium consumption in 2012, up from 15% in 2007 and 8% in 2002. This end-use was responsible for 44% of the net increase in lithium consumption over the last ten years, and 70% over the last five years.
DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX polyamides used in SIM-CEL electric concept car to reduce weight
May 15, 2013
|DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX are used in the new SIM-CEL EV prototype. Click to enlarge.|
SIM-Drive Corporation, founded by Hiroshi Shimizu and based in Kawasaki City, Japan, unveiled the SIM-CEL on 27 March—the third prototype of an advanced all-electric car incorporating in-wheel motors that the company has developed since it was founded in 2009. SIM stands for Shimizu In-wheel Motor, and CEL stands for Cool Energy Link.
Obama Administration launches $200M competition for three new manufacturing innovation institutes; WBG power electronics, lightweight metals and digital manufacturing
May 09, 2013
The Obama Administration is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies: Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. The effort is part of President Obama’s proposed $1-billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country. (Earlier post.)
The Department of Energy will lead one of the new institutes on “Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing” for wide bandgap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) (DE-FOA-0000683). The Department of Defense will lead the other two, focused on “Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing” and “Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation”.
Rennovia demonstrates production of HMD from renewable feedstocks; enabling production of 100% renewable nylon-6,6
April 25, 2013
Rennovia, Inc., a privately held company that develops novel catalysts and processes for the cost-advantaged production of chemical products from renewable feedstocks, has successfully demonstrated production of hexamethylenediamine (HMD) from widely available, renewable feedstocks. Coupled with Rennovia’s previously announced renewable adipic acid, this enables for the first time the production of 100% bio-based nylon-6,6 from monomers derived from bio-renewable feedstocks using chemical catalytic technology.
Nylon-6,6 is used extensively in automotive applications, where it is especially prized for its heat resistance, enabling under-the-hood applications. Nylon-6,6 is also widely used in fiber applications, including textiles, carpet, technical fiber, and tire cord.
EDAG study finds aluminum BIW can deliver mass savings of 35-40% over steel; fuel economy boost
April 17, 2013
|Material selection for the Venza aluminum BIW. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by EDAG Group, commissioned by the Aluminum in Transportation Group of the US Aluminum Association, finds that an all-aluminum body in white (BIW) can deliver potential mass savings in the 35 – 40% range over a base steel BIW. This, when combined with secondary mass savings and other design changes, could boost fuel economy by around 18%.
The study built upon research EDAG performed last year for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examining mass reduction, safety and cost variables in a mid-size crossover Toyota Venza. The EPA study aimed to reduce vehicle mass by 20% while meeting all NHTSA and IIHS safety standards, and maintaining or improving performance, handling and braking.
ARPA-E to award up to $20M for technologies for primary domestic processing of light metals (Al, Mg, Ti); vehicle lightweighting
March 22, 2013
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000882) for up to $20 million for the Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS) program. METALS is to support the development of innovative technologies for cost-effective processing and recycling of aluminum, magnesium and titanium (Al, Mg and Ti).
ARPA-E also last week issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000881) for up to $20 million to fund the development of bioconversion technologies to convert methane into liquid fuels. (Earlier post.)
Nano-spaced stacking faults create stronger, lightweight magnesium alloys; potential for structural applications in automotive and aerospace
March 14, 2013
|Summary of room temperature tensile yield strength and uniform elongation of earlier efforts and the new work. Numbers adjacent to data points are references cited in Jian et al. Source: Jian et al. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating ultra-strong magnesium alloys that maintain good ductility. By introducing stacking faults with nanoscale spacing into a magnesium alloy using conventional hot rolling, they produced a yield strength of 575 MPa, an ultimate strength of 600 MPa, and moderate ductility (uniform elongation of 5.2%).
The nano-spaced stacking faults are essentially a series of parallel fault-lines in the crystalline structure of the alloy that isolate any defects in that structure. The process can lead to Mg alloys with superior mechanical properties with potential structural applications in the automobile and aerospace industries, the researchers suggested in an open access paper in the journal Materials Research Letters.
Nissan to expand use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel into up to 25% of new model parts; 1.2 GPa ultra high strength steel for weight reduction
March 12, 2013
|Relationship of material strength and elongation in steel plates. Source: Nissan. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. plans to expand the use of Advanced High Tensile Strength Steel (AHSS) into up to 25% of the vehicle parts (measured by weight) installed in its new production models starting in 2017 as one of its initiatives to help reduce vehicle weight.
Nissan, in collaboration with Nippon Steel Corporation and Kobe Steel, Ltd., earlier developed 1.2 gigapascal (GPa) Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel with High Formability. (Earlier post.) Prior to the development of 1.2GPa ultra high strength steel it had been difficult to use high tensile steels for vehicle parts with highly-complex shapes. This steel is first employed in the new Infiniti Q50, which goes on sale in North America in 2013.
DOE to award more than $50M for new plug-in vehicle technology research projects
March 09, 2013
The US DOE has released the final version of a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000793) that will award more than $50 million in funding for new projects intended to accelerate the development of advanced plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies to increase vehicle fuel economy and improve performance. DOE had earlier requested public comment on a draft of the solicitation. (Earlier post.) The FOA supports the President’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge. (Earlier post.)
DOE will select new research projects—an anticipated minimum of 30 and maximum of 50—that focus on lowering the cost and increasing the efficiency of PEV components, as well as the development of models and tools to predict these vehicles' performance and help improve fuel economy. The Department will fund projects across five major areas of research and development that cover 12 areas of interest (AOIs), including:
Audi and BMW Group join Aluminium Stewardship Initiative; seeking a standard for sustainable aluminum
February 28, 2013
AUDI AG and the BMW Group, along with Hydro and Rexam, have joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to help develop a global standard for sustainable aluminum. Aluminium is the world’s second most used metal after steel, and is of specific importance to the automotive industry due to its combination of its light weight, durability and strength.
The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative was founded in the autumn of 2012 and aims to develop the first version of a sustainability standard for aluminum by the end of 2014, with the support of the environmental organization IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Founding members of the Initiative are AMCOR Flexibles, AMAG, Constantia Flexibles, Constellium, Nespresso, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Tetra Pak.
USAMP and A/SP receive $6M from DOE for automotive advanced high-strength steel project
February 26, 2013
The United States Automotive Materials Partnership LLC (USAMP), in collaboration with the Auto/Steel Partnership (A/SP), received a competitively solicited award for $6 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for its “Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) Approach to Development of Lightweight, Third-Generation Advanced High-Strength Steels (3GAHSS)” project. (Earlier post.)
USAMP, a collaborative organization of Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors, will work in cooperation with the A/SP on the project to demonstrate the applicability of ICME for the development and deployment of 3GAHSS for passenger vehicle weight reduction. The four-year project is slated to begin by early spring.
Volkswagen to produce XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid at Osnabrück; 261 mpg US
February 21, 2013
|The XL1. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen has confirmed that its XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle, featuring fuel consumption of 0.9 l/100 km (approx. 261 mpg US), will go into limited production at the company’s Osnabrück factory in Germany. The plug-in diesel-electric hybrid, which Volkswagen will showcase at the Geneva show, can cover a distance of up to 50 km (31 miles) in all-electric mode.
The XL1 is low weight (795 kg), aerodynamic (Cd 0.189) and with a low center of gravity (1,153 mm high). This gives it the ability to cruise on the road at a constant speed of 100 km/h (61 mph) using just 6.2 kW / 8.3 hp, Volkswagen says. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover a driving distance of more than one kilometer.
Honda develops new technology to join steel and aluminum, with first application to outer door panel of mass production vehicles
February 18, 2013
|Structure of door panels. Click to enlarge.|
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has developed a technology to join steel and aluminum and applied it to enable adoption of aluminum for an outer door panel, which has conventionally been made of steel. Honda will adopt this technology first to the North American version of the all-new Acura RLX, which will go on sale in the United States in March 2013, and will expand application sequentially to other models.
To join together the dissimilar metals of steel and aluminum, the simultaneous establishment of several different technologies was required such as technologies to prevent corrosion (electrical corrosion) and thermal deformation caused by the different expansion rates of steel and aluminum.
New Corvette marks GM’s first use of heat-activated shape memory alloy to replace heavier motorized part
February 12, 2013
|Corvette’s new shape memory alloy wire replaces a heavier motorized part. Click to enlarge.|
As one of a number of advances to reduce its weight (90 lbs/41 kg lighter than its predecessor), the redesigned seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette is the first vehicle to use a GM-developed lightweight shape memory alloy wire in place of a heavier motorized actuator to open and close the hatch vent that releases air from the trunk. This allows the trunk lid to close more easily than on the previous models where trapped air could make the lid harder to close.
With about 200 motorized movable parts on the typical vehicle that could be replaced with lightweight smart materials, GM says it is looking at significant mass reduction going forward.
BMW and Toyota expand collaboration with work on fuel cell system, sports vehicle, light-weight technology and Li-air battery
January 24, 2013
BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) signed binding agreements aimed at long-term collaboration between the two companies for the joint development of a hydrogen fuel cell system; joint development of architecture and components for a sports vehicle; and joint research and development of lightweight technologies. These agreements follow a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2012. (Earlier post.)
The companies also today signed a binding agreement to commence collaborative research on lithium-air batteries. This agreement marks the second phase of collaborative research into next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that commenced in March 2012. (Earlier post.) The main points of the new agreements are:
GM debuts 2014 Stingray; direct injection, cylinder deactivation, CVVT contribute to more power and reduced fuel consumption
January 14, 2013
|2014 Corvette Stingray. Click to enlarge.|
GM staged the debut of the all-new, 7th generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on the eve of the Detroit Auto Show. The 2014 Corvette Stingray is the most powerful standard model ever, with a new LT1 6.2L Small Block V8 delivering an estimated 450 hp (335 kW) and 450 lb-ft of torque (610 Nm). The new LT1 combines advanced technologies, including direct injection, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system that delivers more power while using less fuel.
The Stingray accelerates from 0-60 in less than four seconds and achieve more than 1g in cornering grip; it is also expected to be the most fuel-efficient Corvette, exceeding the EPA-estimated 26 mpg (9.05 l/100km) of the current model.
Ames Lab team to head new $120M Critical Materials Institute; addressing shortages in rare earth metals and other materials
January 09, 2013
The US Department of Energy selected a team led by its Ames Laboratory for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for US energy. The new research center, which will be named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), will bring together leading researchers from academia, four Department of Energy national laboratories, and the private sector. (Earlier post.)
Many materials deemed critical by the DOE are used in modern clean energy technologies—such as wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy-efficient lighting. The DOE’s 2011 Critical Materials Strategy reported that supply challenges for five rare earth metals (dysprosium, terbium, europium, neodymium, and yttrium) may affect clean energy technology deployment in the coming years. (Earlier post.)
Study finds that aluminum reduces electric vehicle cost against steel counterpart for same targeted range
January 07, 2013
|The study task design steps. Source: fka. Click to enlarge.|
A recent study found that an aluminum electric vehicle can cost up to €635 (US$829) less than that its steel counterpart despite the higher cost of aluminum, given equivalent range targets. The study, conducted by Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka) for the European Aluminium Association (EAA) and the International Aluminum Institute (IAI), found that any additional cost of building a car with aluminum is more than offset by the cost savings that can be made on the battery pack, since a lighter car needs less battery capacity to drive the same distance.
A C-segment crash reference vehicle (Volkswagen Golf) with steel unibody and internal combustion engine served as the basis for this study. The mass and crashworthiness properties of this vehicle were analyzed in four Euro NCAP and FMVSS 301 high-speed load cases, serving as the crash reference within the project. One of the requirements was that electric vehicles (steel-based or aluminium-based) should at least be as safe as the crash reference vehicle.