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[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.]

NREL develops novel method to produce renewable acrylonitrile; carbon fibers from renewable biomass

December 08, 2017

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and their colleagues have devised a novel catalytic method to produce renewable acrylonitrile (ACN) using 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP), which can be biologically produced from sugars. This hybrid biological-catalytic process offers an alternative to the conventional petrochemical production method and achieves unprecedented acrylonitrile yields.

The process, reported in a paper in the journal Science, achieves ACN molar yields exceeding 90% from ethyl 3-HP via dehydration and nitrilation with ammonia over an inexpensive titanium dioxide solid acid catalyst. The researchers described an integrated process modeled at scale that is based on this chemistry and that achieves near-quantitative ACN yields (98 ± 2%) from ethyl acrylate.

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New family of aluminum-cerium alloys shows significantly improved high-temperature performance, economic benefits

December 05, 2017

The high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and high thermal conductivity of aluminum alloys have made them important for the automotive and aerospace industries—and even more so now due to the promise of improved performance and fuel economy from lightweighting. However, while aluminum alloys offer outstanding castability, excellent mechanical properties, and low cost, they have lacked high-temperature mechanical performance.

Now, a multi-laboratory research team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has described a new family of economically competitive aluminum alloys containing 6-16 wt. % cerium which exhibits significantly improved high-temperature mechanical properties, in addition to improved castability and thermal stability when compared to existing aluminum alloys.

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Sumitomo Electric, Univ of Toyama develop magnesium alloy for die casting with superior heat resistance

November 17, 2017

Sumitomo Electric Industries and the University of Toyama have developed a high heat-resistant magnesium alloy for die casting applications. In die casting, a molten metal is injected into a die under high pressure and quickly cooled and solidified into the final part. Owing to its high productivity, die casting is widely used for manufacturing aluminum automotive parts.

One important way the automotive industry is seeking to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles is by reducing their weight. Due to their low castability and heat resistance, high component production cost, and low recyclability, conventional magnesium alloys cannot be used as substitutes for aluminum alloys.

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Magna using torsional welding process for thermoplastics in autos; sensors to thin-wall bumpers

October 27, 2017

Magna is using a torsional welding process for joining thermoplastic materials in order to help automakers cut weight and costs. The torsional welding process, developed by Magna for automotive applications at its exteriors plant in Liberec, Czech Republic, in collaboration with Telsonic Ultrasonics, features a high-speed twisting motion that creates enough friction-based heat to join a plastic bracket to a thermoplastic fascia.

The innovative technology achieves an approximate 1% weight reduction because it allows thinner materials to be joined, which in turn reduces material costs. Torsional welding is currently used to make the front fascia of the 2017 Skoda Octavia, and it has potential for other applications where materials of similar composition need to be joined.

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DSM high-temperature plastics successfully replace metal in charge air cooler end cap application; Volkswagen Crafter

October 03, 2017

Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, has partnered with Mahle GmbH to replace metal end caps with high-heat-resistant plastics in charge air cooler (CAC) applications. This change has led to improved engine performance, better fuel efficiency and reduced system costs.

Metal end caps in CAC applications must withstand continuous temperatures up to 230 °C (446 ˚F), which limits the material choices. For this project, DSM leveraged its materials knowledge, paired with the application expertise of Mahle, to enable the use of DSM’s Stanyl Diablo OCD2300 (a PA46 with 50% glass fiber) for Volkswagen’s Crafter light commercial vehicle.

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Anticipating increased demand for EVs, Teijin to support World Solar Challenge

September 25, 2017

Teijin Aramid BV, the core company of the Teijin Group’s aramid business, announced that its para-aramid fiber Twaron will be deployed in the solar-powered vehicles being developed by the KU Leuven and University of Michigan http://umich.edu/ teams taking part in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the world’s biggest solar car racing event, taking place in Australia from 8 to 15 October.

Taking advantage of its advanced materials and processing technologies, the Teijin Group intends to further strengthen its ability to deliver innovative technological solutions in fields such as weight reduction and battery efficiency. It plans to do this in order to meet the expected growth in worldwide demand for electric vehicles (EV) leading up to the year 2040, by which time these are expected to become the default mode of transportation.

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ArcelorMittal S-in motion seat study cuts weight by up to 18.3% with AHSS; introduction later this year

September 21, 2017

In 2010, leading global steelmaker ArcelorMittal launched its S-in motion range of lightweight steek solutions. (Earlier post.) Since then, the company has steadily expanded the range of solutions, which now cover many other types of vehicles and vehicle parts, including hybrid and electric vehicles, pick-up trucks, mid-size sedans and SUVs.

Front seats are the latest vehicle component to be examined as part of the ongoing development of lightweight S-in motion solutions, with a reduction in weight of up to 18.3%. The S-in motion Front Seats project identified where advanced high strength steels (AHSS) could be used to optimize and lightweight components while maintaining safety and performance. The scope of the study was a typical front seat for a C-segment passenger vehicle.

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Jaguar Land Rover seeking to increase the amount of aluminum from scrap for new vehicle production; 3-year, £2M REALITY project

September 11, 2017

Jaguar Land Rover Automotive is expanding the use of recycled aluminum in its car bodies to cut waste and reduce carbon emissions.

A £2-million (US$2.6-million) project, called REALITY, will work to enable the closed-loop recycling of aluminum from end-of-life vehicles back into high-performance product forms for new vehicle body manufacture. The target is to increase the amount of aluminum coming back from scrap. REALITY builds on the REALCAR project (earlier post) allowing tens of thousands of tonnes of aluminum generated in the manufacturing process to be recycled and reused as a closed-loop. Aluminum from other sources, including end-of-life vehicles, can now be graded and used in the manufacture of new cars.

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Williams Advanced Engineering unveils lightweight electric car platform concept

September 06, 2017

Williams Advanced Engineering is displaying an innovative lightweight EV platform concept, named the FW-EVX, at this year’s Low Carbon Vehicle Show, Millbrook, UK, 6-7 September. With the intent of maximizing vehicle efficiency, Williams Advanced Engineering reimagined how electric cars are designed and constructed. This new approach is designed to make EVs lighter, safer and greener, with longer range and better performance.

The concept features several innovations in battery pack design, cooling systems and lightweight structures, which have each been integrated into a single, scalable platform.

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PNNL ShAPE magnesium extrusion process makes lightest automotive metal more economic, useful

August 23, 2017

Magnesium is one of the lightest of all structural metals—75% lighter than steel, 33% lighter than aluminum—and is the fourth most common element on earth behind iron, silicon and oxygen. But despite its light weight and natural abundance, automakers have been stymied in their attempts to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural car parts. To provide the necessary strength has up to now required the addition of rare elements such as dysprosium, praseodymium and ytterbium.

Now, a new process developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory should make it more feasible for the auto industry to incorporate magnesium alloys into structural components. The new extrusion process has the potential to reduce cost by eliminating the need for rare-earth elements, while simultaneously improving the material’s structural properties.

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Ducker survey finds aluminum expected to represent 16% of total vehicle weight by 2028; transition to a multi-material design

August 03, 2017

Over the next decade, automakers will continue to increase the adoption of high-strength, low weight aluminum in new car and truck construction at a faster pace than ever before. Total aluminum content is expected to grow from 397 pounds (180.1 kg) per vehicle (PPV) in 2015 to 565 PPV (256.3 kg) by 2028, representing 16% of total vehicle weight, according to a survey of automakers conducted by Ducker Worldwide. The study was commissioned by the Aluminum Association.

This is consistent with the emerging trend of automakers transitioning to a multi-material vehicle (MMV) design approach, choosing aluminum for doors, hoods and trunk lids, body-in-white, bumpers and crash boxes.

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Mercedes-Benz Trucks introduces its first 3D-printed spare part made of metal

August 02, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has introduced its first 3D-printed spare part made of metal (an aluminum-silicon material), a thermostat cover for truck and Unimog models from older model series.

In contrast to the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process used in plastics 3D printing, 3D printing of metallic components uses Selective Laser Melting (SLM). In the case of the thermostat cover, for example, the powdered aluminium/silicon material (ALSi10Mg) is applied in individual layers and melted by an energy source—usually one or more lasers.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica wins Altair Enlighten Award for weight reduction in full vehicle category; Toyota, Faurecia and AP&T module, technology winners

July 31, 2017

Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) announced the winners of the 5th annual Altair Enlighten Award, which strives to promote and celebrate innovation in automotive lightweighting. The winner of the Full Vehicle category was the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, which is 249 pounds (113 kilograms) lighter than its predecessor.

Toyota’s carbon fiber closure panels for the 2017 Prius Prime and Lexus LC500 (earlier post), and Faurecia’s Adaptive Valve for exhaust systems employed on the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado took the top honors for the module category. Swedish metal forming specialist AP&T claimed the Enabling Technology category for its innovative aluminum forming technology used on several European vehicles.

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Four new LightMAT projects to advance lighter weight vehicle components

The US DOE has selected four new projects designed to overcome technical hurdles in reducing the weight of vehicle components. The projects are part of a first round of industrial assistance opportunities supported by the Department of Energy’s LightMAT, the Lightweight Materials Consortium (earlier post).

DOE will provide $1.2 million to advance lightweight vehicles through research on materials and processing. Over the next two years, three DOE national laboratories will provide technical assistance to five industry partners. Each industry partner will match DOE’s investment dollar for dollar at a minimum to boost lightweight materials technology.

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Team uses neutron scattering to investigate new Al-Ce alloy in running engine

July 26, 2017

A team from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has worked with industry partners to use neutrons to probe a running engine at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (earlier post), giving them the opportunity to test an aluminum-cerium alloy under operating conditions. The feat was a first for the Spallation Neutron Source, said Ke An, lead instrument scientist for the facility’s VULCAN instrument. “This was the first time an internal combustion engine has been run on our diffractometer, and, as far as we know, on any other,” he stated.

The unique properties of neutrons allow them to penetrate materials in a nondestructive fashion, revealing fundamental details about a material’s atomic structure. VULCAN uses neutrons to measure strain and stress on large industrial samples, which made it ideal for evaluating a cylinder head cast from an aluminum-cerium alloy ORNL developed in partnership with Eck Industries.

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New low-cost, lightweight magnesium sheet alloy with good formability for automotive applications; 1.5x stronger than aluminum

July 24, 2017

A research team at Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and Nagaoka University of Technology has developed a new high-strength magnesium sheet alloy (Mg–1.1Al–0.3Ca–0.2Mn–0.3Zn) that has excellent room-temperature formability comparable to that of the aluminum sheet metal currently used in body panels of some automobiles.

The magnesium alloy becomes stronger than aluminum alloy after a heat treatment, uses only common metals, and could be a low-cost, lightweight sheet metal for automotive applications. A paper on the work is published in the journal Scripta Materialia.

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GWU team demonstrates highly scalable, low-cost process for making carbon nanotube wools directly from CO2

July 19, 2017

Researchers at George Washington University led by Dr. Stuart Licht have demonstrated the first facile high-yield, low-energy synthesis of macroscopic length carbon nanotubes (CNTs)—carbon nanotube wool—from CO2 using molten carbonate electrolysis (earlier post).

The resulting CNT wool is of length suitable for weaving into carbon composites and textiles and is highly conductive; the calculated cost to produce the CNTs is approximately $660 per ton, compared to the current $100,000+ per ton price range of CNTs. A paper on the work is published in the journal Materials Today Energy.

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Hydro fully acquires Sapa to create a global aluminum company fully integrated across value chain and markets

July 11, 2017

Norsk Hydro will acquire Orkla’s 50% interest in Sapa—a 50/50 joint venture between Orkla and Hydro formed in 2013, and the world’s largest aluminum extrusion company. The transaction gives Sapa a total enterprise value of NOK 27 billion (US$3.24 billion). Sapa will become a new business area in Hydro named Extruded Solutions. Anticipated closing of the transaction is in the second half of 2017.

The combination will make Hydro the only global company in the aluminum industry that is fully integrated across the value chain and markets. Hydro will have strength in technology, R&D, innovation and product development, as well as a product and service offering for more than 30,000 customers throughout the world.

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RAMSSES project investigating use of lightweight materials in shipbuilding; 70m fiber-reinforced composite hull

July 01, 2017

A new EU-sponsored project—RAMSSES (Realization and Demonstration of Advanced Material Solutions for Sustainable and Efficient Ships)—seeks to bring sustainable construction principles such as lightweight construction and modern materials such as fiber-reinforced composites to shipbuilding. Up to now, freighters have been made exclusively from steel. RAMSSES includes 37 partners from 13 countries; the partners began working together this month.

Among the specific aims of the project is the production of a hull made out of fiber-reinforced composites and roughly 70 meters in length, which they will then test under real-life conditions on the high seas.

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LiquidPiston receives $3M Rapid Innovation Fund award from US Army for 2kW hybrid-electric genset

June 28, 2017

LiquidPiston, Inc. (LPI), a developer of advanced multi-fuel-capable rotary combustion engine technology, has been awarded a $3-million Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) award from the US Army to develop an innovative ultra-portable 2kW diesel Compact Artillery Power System (CAPS). The RIF process is extremely selective, with only five percent of whitepapers ultimately being selected for the award.

CAPS is a compact, lightweight, quiet, low-vibration and efficient hybrid-electric diesel generator set capable of supplying up to 2kW of electric power while running on Jet Propellant 8 (JP8) or diesel fuel. The CAPS Genset prototype objectives include less than 30 pounds (13.6 kg) (dry weight), 1.5 ft3 (bounding volume), and less than 60db at 7 meters. This is a 75% reduction in generator weight compared to the MEP-501A, the current 2kW JP8 generator in use today, which weighs 124 pounds (56.3 kg).

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2018 Chevy Equinox drops almost 400 lbs; about 10% of mass

June 21, 2017

The 2018 Chevrolet Equinox SUV has dropped nearly 400 pounds (181 kg)—approximately 10% of its mass—compared to its predecessor. Combined with this weight loss, the all-new body was designed and optimized for top safety ratings.

The 2018 Equinox’s body structure design was optimized with a mixed-material strategy for strength and low weight. More than 80% of the Equinox’s body structure is composed of high-grade steel materials, with high-strength steel comprising nearly 20%.

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Warwick team develops new technique controlling brittle stages in production of high-strength, lightweight steels

A team at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University of Warwick (UK) has developed a new processing route which allows low-density steel-based alloys to be produced with maximum strength, while remaining durable and flexible—something which has been largely impossible until now.

The development could enable the production of high-strength, lightweight steels on an industrial scale, and could lead to safer, greener, more fuel-efficient and streamlined cars. A paper on the research is published in the journal Acta Materialia.

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Teijin develops first polycarbonate-resin pillar-less automotive front window; used in EV

June 19, 2017

Teijin Limited has developed the first polycarbonate (PC)-resin pillar-less automotive front window for use in the Tommykaira ZZ, a sporty electric vehicle (EV) produced by GLM Co., Ltd., an EV manufacturer launched by Kyoto University.

Automotive front windows must satisfy a variety of regulations, including for light transmission, abrasion resistance and crash safety. While A-pillars provide protection in the event of a frontal collision, thicker A-pillars obstruct the driver’s view. Japan’s new automotive safety standards will require plastics-glazed windows in models released from July to offer enhanced resistance to abrasion and weather.

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DOE: automotive use of lightweight materials has increased over last 20 years even as weight increases

June 06, 2017

As automakers strive to improve fuel economy, they have turned increasingly to lightweight materials to reduce overall vehicle weight—even though the average weight of materials in North American light vehicles has increased from 3,694 lbs (1,675.57 kg) in 1995 to 3,994 lbs (1,811.65 kg) in 2014, according to figures from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Use of regular steel has declined by more than 250 lbs (113.4 kg) per vehicle from 1995 to 2014 from 1,630 lbs (739.36 kg) to 1,379 lbs (625.5 kg). At the same time, the use of high- and medium-strength steels has doubled, increasing by 325 lbs (147.42 kg) per vehicle—from 324 lbs to 649 lbs (294.38 kg).

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Brunel, Sarginsons developing high-performance cast aluminum alloys for energy-absorbing structures; better bumpers without steel

May 22, 2017

The Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST), a global leader in metallurgical casting research, is working closely with foundry partner Sarginsons Industries and others on the development of high-performance cast aluminum alloys as part of the Lightweight Energy Absorbing Aluminium Structures for Transport (LEAAST) project.

Advanced aluminum automotive body designs still depend on steel for bumper beams; in rail applications, steel-based crash systems predominate. LEAAST is working to design, manufacture and demonstrate lightweight aluminium systems based on the use of a novel high strength aluminium extrusion alloy that can replace the incumbent steel systems while providing at least a 25% weight reduction using alloys formulated from recycled end of life scrap.

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Researchers develop microwave-driven, energy-efficient process for magnesium production

May 18, 2017

Magnesium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of the structural metals; as such, it is attractive for use in transportation as well as in sustainable battery technologies (e.g, earlier post). However, its current production through ore reduction using the conventional Pidgeon process emits large amounts of CO2 and particulate matter (PM2.5).

Now, researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues at Oricon Energy have developed a novel Pidgeon process driven by microwaves to produce Mg metal with less energy consumption and no direct CO2 emissions. In an open-access paper on the work published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team reports that the microwave Pidgeon process made it possible to produce Mg with an energy consumption of 58.6 GJ/t, corresponding to a 68.6% reduction when compared to the conventional method.

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Audi puts steel back in the new A8

May 12, 2017

The new Audi A8, scheduled for release in 2018, features a multi-material body structure (earlier post) consisting of more than 40% steel. That’s a marked turnaround from the all-aluminum body-in-white which Audi developed for the A8 in 1994, in which steel was essentially used for the B-pillars alone, and accounted for about 8% of the body structure.

Since then, steel has evolved significantly. Steel’s strength has multiplied by almost 10 times over the past 20 years, from 270 to 2000 MPa tensile strength. More than 80 new steel products are under development at steelmaker ArcelorMittal, with an automotive steel grade portfolio of almost 200 unique steel grades, half of which were introduced in just the past decade.

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Toyota using Mitsubishi Rayon’s carbon fiber SMC for hatch door frame of new Prius PHV

April 24, 2017

Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) (which is now consolidated into Mitsubishi Chemical, along with Mitsubishi Plastis and the former Mitsubishi Chemical) recently announced that its carbon fiber sheet molding compound (SMC) has been adopted for the rear hatch frame of the new Toyota Prius PHV. SMC is a form of thermoset chopped fiber composite; glass fiber reinforced SMC is already commonly in use in the automotive industry.

SMC developed by MRC is a type of intermediate material for CFRPs and a sheet-shaped material in which carbon fibers cut into several-centimeter lengths are dispersed in resin. The SMC can be processed into components in a short period of time—roughly 2 to 5 minutes—by press molding. In contrast to prepreg intermediate materials (uncut carbon fiber fabric impregnated with resin), this SMC features high formability for molding complicated shaped parts.

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DOE SBV Pilot selects 38 small business for labs partnerships; 2 fuel cell and 4 vehicle projects

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Vouchers (SBV) Pilot has selected eight DOE national labs for collaborations with 38 small businesses in the third round of funding. Among these are two projects in the fuel cells area and four projects in the vehicle area. Other projects address advanced manufacturing, bioenergy, buildings, geothermal, solar, water and wind technologies.

In the first two rounds of the program, 12 DOE national labs received funding to partner with 76 small businesses. With the latest announcement, SBV will have awarded approximately $22 million to support partnerships between 114 US small businesses and the national labs.

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Next-gen Audi A8 introduces new four-material space frame; light weight and rigid

April 06, 2017

For the next generation of the Audi A8, an intelligent mix of four materials—aluminum, steel, magnesium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP)—is being used for the first time in the weight-bearing body structure—more materials than in any of the brand’s previous production models.

The resulting low weight and impressive rigidity—the upcoming flagship’s torsional rigidity surpasses the predecessor model’s rigidity value by up to 24%—from the multi-material construction of the Audi Space Frame (ASF) offer greater performance, efficiency and safety.

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AAM develops new axle technology; lighter, more efficient for up to 1.5% better fuel economy

March 30, 2017

American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) has developed completely new, significantly improved axle technology. QUANTUM driveline technology is scalable across a wide range of vehicle segments and provides substantial advantages regardless of vehicle size: reduced mass, increased power density, improved noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and fuel efficiency gains in a more compact system package. The combined additional efficiency and weight reduction can deliver 1% to 1.5% improved vehicle fuel economy, AAM said.

QUANTUM offers a 20% increase in power density along with a minimum 30% mass reduction at the same torque capacity. For a heavy-duty pickup, QUANTUM provides more than 100 lbs. of vehicle weight savings, said Phil Guys, AAM vice president and chief technology officer. “It is significantly more efficient without any reduction in performance.

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New Lotus Elise drops even more weight; Sprint edition at 798 kg

March 20, 2017

Lotus has unveiled a significant update for the Lotus Elise ahead of its arrival in showrooms this spring. The new Sprint edition features the biggest weight cut to the car since the introduction of the first-generation Elise. The Sprint edition of the Lotus Elise has removed 41 kg (90.4 lbs) from the previous model, to reach a benchmark dry weight of just 798 kg (1,759 lbs).

Integrating a new front and rear aesthetic with Lotus’ established design language, this latest Elise also receives a wide range of cabin enhancements, including the lightweight open-gate gear select mechanism first introduced on the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The Sprint is available in both the 1.6-liter naturally aspirated and 1.8-liter supercharged versions.

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Novelis enters supply agreement with NIO to provide aluminum solutions for next-gen EVs

March 16, 2017

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, has expanded its automotive supply capabilities by signing an agreement with EV company NIO (earlier post), to provide innovative aluminum solutions for its fleet of smart, high-performance, premium electric vehicles. NIO will use Novelis Advanz aluminum alloys to create a wide range of structural components and parts for its aluminum-intensive NIO electric SUV models to be launched over the next five years.

The NIO partnership marks Novelis’ first major commitment in the premium electric vehicle space. Supply for NIO will come from Novelis’ Changzhou plant, China’s first facility dedicated to manufacturing heat-treated automotive sheet. The plant is an example of Novelis’ long-term commitment and capability to supply product in Asia for auto manufacturers based in that region and globally.

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Magna and Ford developing prototype carbon fiber composite subframe; mass reduction of 34%

March 14, 2017

In pursuit of lower vehicle weight to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency, Magna International Inc., in cooperation with Ford Motor Company, developed a prototype carbon fiber composite subframe which reduces mass by 34% compared to making a stamped steel equivalent. The subframe is a key part of a vehicle’s structure, typically providing a place to attach the engine and wheels while also contributing rigidity and crash management.

By replacing 45 steel parts with two molded and four metallic parts, the prototype subframe achieves an 87% reduction in the number of parts. The moldings are joined by adhesive bonding and structural rivets.

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IACMI launches project to optimize resins and sizings for vinyl ester / carbon fiber composites; targeting automotive adoption

March 13, 2017

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a Manufacturing USA institute driven by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the US Department of Energy, in partnership with Ashland, Zoltek, Michelman, University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI), JobsOhio, and Michigan State University (MSU) has launched a project focused on the optimization of vinyl ester resins and fiber sizings for the fabrication of carbon fiber composites.

The effort will identify styrene-free prepreg formulations with longer room temperature shelf life, shorter cycle times, and reduced cost. Advancements in these areas will increase productivity, decrease scrap and material costs, and enable adoption into the automotive industry.

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Teijin develops new hard-coating technology for automotive plastics glazing

March 10, 2017

Teijin Limited has developed a new hard-coating technology that can be applied evenly on large or complex-shaped automotive windows made of resin to achieve the same level of abrasion resistance as glass windows and double the weather resistance of conventional plastics glazing.

Teijin initially will produce small-lot samples of actual windows for selected car models at a pilot plant in Matsuyama. Going forward, it will gradually verify production technologies for the manufacture of a wider range of windows on a mass-production basis, aiming at an early launch of full-scale commercial manufacturing operations.

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Ford testing 3D printing of large-scale parts using Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer

March 09, 2017

Ford Motor Company is exploring how large-scale one-piece auto parts, such as spoilers, could be printed for prototyping and future production vehicles, as the first automaker to pilot the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer.

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GKN Driveline develops new lightweight propshaft for Audi Q5; more compact, lighter, more efficient; MLB Evo

March 02, 2017

GKN Driveline created a new lightweight, high-speed propshaft joint for the all-new Audi Q5. The PVL joint is smaller, lighter and more refined than predecessor technology, and represents a bespoke solution by GKN engineers to create a more compact joint. Its outer diameter is reduced by 7mm, representing an 8% reduction in the width and height of the space it occupies in the driveline.

The smaller joint is also 350g lighter, representing a 23% weight reduction, yet there is no negative impact on torque capacity. With a smaller rotating mass, the PVL joint improves performance and efficiency, and helps to lower vehicle emissions.

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Strong honeycomb cargo shelf in new Ford EcoSport SUV made of recycled paper; 6lb floorboard holds ~700 lbs of cargo

February 18, 2017

The adjustable cargo floorboard in the all-new 2018 Ford EcoSport is made of high-strength 100% recycled paper honeycomb. Constructed from all-natural paper and water-based glue, the six-pound honeycomb floorboard is both eco-friendly and strong enough to handle nearly 700 pounds of cargo across its 38.5-inch by 25.25-inch surface.

Ford introduced the EcoSport for North America in November 2016 (via the first Snapchat reveal). The EcoSport is intended to combined space-saving convenience, SUV capability and connectivity. The adjustable floorboard will debut as an all-new feature when EcoSport arrives early next year.

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Government of Canada awards $18.2M for aluminum autoparts and better Li-ion battery management

February 17, 2017

The Government of Canada is awarding a total of $18.2 million to two companies that have developed innovations with the potential to make cars lighter, more fuel efficient and, in the case of electric cars, better performing due to a longer battery life.

Astrex Inc. of Lakeshore will receive a repayable contribution of up to $17 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency’s (FedDev Ontario) Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The investment will enable Astrex, a manufacturer of auto parts, to establish a facility that produces lightweight, high-strength aluminum components. The parts manufactured at this plant will reduce fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions.

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FLAC project seeks 40-80% weight reduction in automotive components through 3D printing

January 22, 2017

Engineers at The University of Nottingham are developing lightweight automotive components using new additive manufacturing processes to boost vehicle fuel efficiency, while cutting noise and CO2 emissions as part of the Functional Lattices for Automotive Components (FLAC) project. FLAC aims to achieve significant weight reductions in mass (40-80%) and optimized thermo-mechanical performance in new vehicle components.

The Nottingham team will construct components using selective laser melting (SLM). SLM uses a 3-Dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) model to digitally reproduce the object in a number of layers. Each layer is sequentially recreated by melting sections of a bed of aluminium alloy powder using a laser beam. Layer by layer, the melted particles fuse and solidify to form novel structures that can be made up from complex lattices to provide a light-weight component. SLM helps increase functionality and lower the number of separate components in production. This significant mass saving cuts component costs and increases overall vehicle efficiency.

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Renault Trucks working with metal 3D printing to reduce engine size and weight

January 12, 2017

The Renault Trucks Lyon Powertrain Engineering department is developing metal additive manufacturing—i.e., 3D metal printing—as a future engine manufacturing process. The aim of this project is to demonstrate the positive impact of metal additive manufacturing on the size and weight of an engine, said Damien Lemasson, project manager at Renault Trucks.

Renault has designed a prototype DTI 5 4-cylinder Euro 6 step C engine for 3D printing production; the ability of additive manufacturing to produce complex forms resulted in a 25% reduction in the number of components in the DTI 5 engine—a total of 200 fewer parts. The Renault engineers have also manufactured rocker arms and camshaft bearing caps by metal 3D printing and successfully bench-tested these for 600 hours inside a Euro 6 engine.

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