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Weight reduction

[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.]

Alcoa splitting into two companies; expecting 2.4x increase in automotive revenues to $1.8B in 2018

September 28, 2015

The Board of Directors of Alcoa has unanimously approved a plan to split the lightweight metals leader into two independent, publicly-traded companies. The globally competitive Upstream Company will comprise five business units that today make up Global Primary Products: Bauxite, Alumina, Aluminum, Casting and Energy.

The Value-Add Company will include Global Rolled Products, Engineered Products and Solutions, and Transportation and Construction Solutions. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016. At that point Alcoa shareholders will own all of the outstanding shares of both the Upstream and Value-Add Companies. The separation is intended to qualify as a tax-free transaction to Alcoa shareholders for US federal income tax purposes.

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DOE awards nearly $55M to advance fuel efficient vehicle technologies in support of EV Everywhere and SuperTruck

September 18, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding nearly $55 million for 24 projects to develop and deploy advanced vehicle technologies, supporting the Energy Department’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable to own and operate as today’s gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

Through the Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance with the Energy Department, the Department of the Army is contributing an additional $2.26 million in co-funding to support projects focused on battery modeling technologies and computational fluid dynamics.

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New Opel Astra up to 441 lbs lighter than predecessor

August 27, 2015

The new Opel Astra, which makes its debut in several weeks at the IAA in Frankfurt, will be up to 200 kg (441 lbs) lighter than its predecessor (120 kg / 265 lbs at a minimum). The next generation of the compact bestseller is based on an all-new lightweight architecture, with a slimmer body and all-aluminum engines.

The Monza Concept presented at the 2013 IAA (earlier post) was the role model for Opel’s eleventh compact class generation. The new Astra features a slimmed down vehicle architecture: the bodyshell (body-in-white) and structure alone are more than 20 percent lighter, down from 357 to 280 kilograms (787 to 617 lbs). Another 50 kilograms (110 lbs) were saved in the design of chassis components: high-strength and ultra-high-strength lightweight steels, more compact subframes as well as modification to the front and rear suspensions all contributed to this end result.

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Novelis introducing high-strength 7000-series aluminum alloys for automotive industry

August 18, 2015

Novelis is introducing the Advanz 7000-series of high-strength aluminum alloys designed for safety-critical components of vehicle structures. Two to three times stronger than any automotive aluminum used in high volumes today, Novelis Advanz 7000-series products can be used to manufacture components such as bumper systems, crash ring components and door intrusion beams.

Very high strength 7000-series aluminum alloys have been in development for and in use in aerospace applications for decades, said Duane Bendzinski, Novelis Global Director of Technology, Automotive. Novelis has been looking at ways to make the alloys more useful and specific for automotive applications, he said.

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Ford wins 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for lightweighting of F-150

August 07, 2015

Ford Motor Company was the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for its use of various lightweight materials to minimize weight of the 2015 Ford F-150. The Enlighten Award is the automotive industry’s first award program created specifically to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

Ford’s entry, one of 17 nominations that competed for the award, was selected as the winner for taking 700 pounds (318 kg) off of the Ford F-150 while improving its performance, safety, and efficiency. (Earlier post.) Ford engineers took a holistic approach to weight reduction by incorporating advanced materials into the entire design of the vehicle, including the frame, body, powertrain, battery and interior features such as the seats. The weight savings help the truck tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker and stop shorter, and it contributes to fuel efficiency.

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GM using Continental Structural Plastics’ TCA Ultra Lite in Corvette for 20 lb weight savings

July 22, 2015

Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a global provider of lightweight composite solutions, announced that its Tough Class A (TCA) Ultra Lite material, introduced in September 2014, is now in production on the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette. The use of TCA Ultra Lite, a Class A body panel material, results in a 20 lb (9 kg) weight savings on the Stingray Coupe model. This is the first production use of CSP’s Ultra Lite advanced composite.

Ultra Lite technology uses treated glass bubbles to replace some of the CaCO3 (calcium carbonate) filler, allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and the resin. This is a patented treatment technology that results in a more robust resin mix that makes molded parts more resistant to handling damage, and prevents the micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering. The treated bubbles also help with paint adhesion and bonding characteristics.

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China Zhongwang and Brilliance Bus partner to develop all-aluminum new energy public buses

July 20, 2015

China Zhongwang Holdings Limited, the second largest industrial aluminum extrusion product developer and manufacturer in the world and the biggest one in Asia, has successfully designed, manufactured and developed all-aluminum new energy electric buses for Brilliance Bus (Dalian) Company Limited. This co-operation marks China Zhongwang’s inauguration as the first and only aluminum processing enterprise in China to have the capability of undertaking both the design and manufacturing of all-aluminum new energy public buses.

The frame and body of this new public bus model use aluminum alloy as the key material. Its weight is reduced by 40% compared to its steel counterparts. Aluminium-bodied vehicles are more durable, corrosion resistant and have better vibration absorption capabilities. The lighter auto bodies increase the vehicles’ driving range, thereby conserving energy and reducing operating costs.

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Syntactic foam composite for lightweight yet strong materials; bending strength for automotive applications

July 17, 2015

A team of researchers reports success in pioneering tests of a layered material with a lightweight metal matrix syntactic foam core that holds significant potential for automobiles, trains, ships, and other applications requiring lightweight structural components that retain their strength even when bent or compressed. (Syntactic foams are materials with pre-formed hollow spheres as a main constituent. “Syntactic” refers to the “ordered structure” provided by the hollow spheres.)

The research team of Nikhil Gupta, a NYU School of Engineering associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, working with the Toledo, Ohio, company Deep Springs Technology and the US Army Research Laboratory, published their findings in Materials Science and Engineering: A.

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Ford’s first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels

July 12, 2015

To source the new lightweight track-capable carbon fiber wheels that are standard on the new Shelby GT350R Mustang, Ford partnered with Australia-based Carbon Revolution. Carbon Revolution first began delivering composite wheels in 2004 for Formula SAE campaigns. The company now is producing its “CR-9” wheel series in limited numbers for Porsche, BMW M3, Audi R8, Lamborghini and McLaren MP4-12C within Europe, Japan and North America. Ford, however, wanted more of a mass-production solution.

The one-piece carbon fiber wheels for the Mustang weigh nearly half that of an equivalent aluminum wheel (18 pounds versus 33 pounds), and handling and acceleration performance see serious benefits. The wheels also provide a reduction in rotational inertia of more than 40%, which positively impacts acceleration and braking performance. The wheels are so light, the springs and MagneRide dampers had to be recalibrated because the suspension can respond considerably faster to road inputs.

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Toho Tenax’s prepreg helps to cut 1.1MW Tajima Rimac electric racer’s weight

June 22, 2015

Teijin Limited announced that carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin, or prepreg, made by Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, is used in the lightweight body of a new 1.1 MW electric racecar operated by Team APEV with Monster Sport. The Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One—driven by Tajima CEO Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima—will race in the Electric Modified Division in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb from June 22 to 28.

The racer, developed by Rimac Automobili in collaboration with Monster Sport and Team APEV, is based on an aluminum space frame covered with the carbon fiber composite body panels. A 57 kWh Rimac battery pack powers four Rimac permanent magnet synchronous motors, delivering combined maximum output of 1,100 kW (1,475 hp) and 1,500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque.

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Reducing the weight of the 2016 Malibu

June 18, 2015

Chevrolet’s new 2016 Malibu, engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features, and featuring the option of a new full-hybrid powertrain (earlier post), is also nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.

The 3,100 lb (1,406 kg) Malibu has the mid-size segment’s lightest base curb weight, and also offers an estimated 37 mpg (6.35 l/100 km) highway for the 1.5L turbo base engine. (The hybrid model offers an estimated 48 mpg (4.9 l/100 km) in city driving.) The lighter curb weight also improves ride and handling.

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Ricardo supporting Detroit Materials in commercialization of innovative lightweight steels

June 04, 2015

Ricardo Strategic Consulting, the global management consulting subsidiary of Ricardo plc, is providing support to start-up Detroit Materials (DM) for strategy and supply chain development to assist in the commercialization of its ultra-high performance structural materials into the automotive, truck and transportation sectors in support of structural lightweighting initiatives.

Detroit Materials has developed extremely strong, castable low-alloy steel. The DM steel offers the performance advantages of exotic-alloy steels (1300 MPa UTS, 16% elongation) with the ability to cast thin wall sections (3mm wall) and complex geometries at comparable cost per performance to ADI (Austempered Ductile Irons) and GJS ductile irons.

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Researchers develop high-speed friction stir welding technique for aluminum joining at high volume production speeds

May 24, 2015

In partnership with General Motors, Alcoa and TWB Company LLC, researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a high-speed friction stir welding (FSW) process (earlier post) to join aluminum sheets of varying thicknesses—a key to producing auto parts that are light yet retain strength where it’s most needed—at speeds required for high volume production. The PNNL-developed process is ten times faster than current FSW techniques, representing production speeds that, for the first time, meet high-volume assembly requirements. The advancement is reported in an open-access paper in JOM, the member journal of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

To create door frames, hoods and other auto parts, sheets of metal are welded together end-to-end into a “tailor-welded blank” (TWB) which is then cut into appropriate sizes before being stamped into the final shape. This process allows a high degree of customization. For example, a thicker gauge of metal can be used on one side of a car part, where extra strength is needed, joined via a weld to a thinner gauge on the side where it’s not.

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Solvay participating in Polimotor 2 carbon fiber reinforced polymer engine project

May 19, 2015

Solvay is taking a “leadership role” in the development of the Polimotor 2 all-plastic automotive engine to be tested in a race car next year, demonstrating the company’s advanced specialty polymer technologies in light-weighting through metal replacement. The collaborative project is intended ultimately to set the stage for innovative breakthroughs in future commercial automobiles.

The original Polimotor was developed by Matti Holtzberg in the 1980s. The first version of the Polimotor, based on the Ford 2.3L Mustang engine, used a combination of carbon fiber, Torlon, epoxy, ceramic and metal. The engine block, cylinder head, valve spring retainers, timing gear intake valves and several other parts were made of fiber reinforced composites (FRCs). The reciprocating mass was still metal.

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Jaguar bringing XE diesel to US in 2016

April 29, 2015

The Jaguar US lineup will expand in 2016 with the addition of the all new, aluminum-intensive Jaguar XE compact sports sedan in 20d (diesel) and 35t models each in Premium, Prestige and R-Sport trim levels and available in RWD or AWD. The Jaguar XE will be offered with a lighter version of the ZF 8-speed automatic used in the rest of the Jaguar range.

The fuel economy leader will be the Jaguar XE 20d, powered by the company’s new Ingenium 2.0 liter diesel (earlier post) delivering 180 hp (134 kW) and 318 lb-ft (431 N·m) of torque. Mated with the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Jaguar XE 20d will be the brand’s most fuel efficient model (EPA figures to be released at later date).

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ENGEL to equip Open Hybrid LabFactory with v-duo 3600 for integrated composites research

April 24, 2015

Injection moulding machine manufacturer ENGEL is currently building an ENGEL v-duo 3600 machine for the Open Hybrid LabFactory (OHLF) public/private collaborative research partnership in Wolfsburg, Germany where the machine will support research into functionally integrated composite technologies. (BMW uses ENGEL duo injection moulding machines to manufacture car body shell components for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. Earlier post.)

With a clamping force of 36,000 kN, the ENGEL v-duo 3600 is the largest machine in its series. One machine in the same clamping force class is installed at BMW’s Landshut factory, where large structural components of fibre-reinforced plastic composites are manufactured using the HP-RTM process.

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“WaterBone” design wins grand prize in ARPA-E LITECAR Challenge

April 20, 2015

The winning design: “WaterBone”. Click to enlarge.

Local Motors, in partnership with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), announced the winner of the LIghtweighting Technologies Enabling Comprehensive Automotive Redesign (LITECAR) Challenge. The design challenge served to accelerate innovative ideas by using novel material technologies, structural designs, energy absorbing materials and unique methods of manufacturing to reduce vehicle curb weight while maintaining current US automotive safety standards. 254 conceptual designs were submitted. (Earlier post.)

The winning design, Aerodynamic Water Droplet with Strong Lightweight Bone Structure (“WaterBone”), was created by Andres Tovar, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and his group of graduate students. The proposed design—which makes innovations in the structural layout, use of multi-materials, and the 3D printing manufacturing process—has the outer shape (envelope) of a water droplet with an embedded trabecular (graded porous) bone-like structure (spaceframe). The water droplet shape provides a low drag coefficient, while the spaceframe provides the mechanical strength and energy absorption capabilities (crashworthiness) required to protect the occupant in the event of a collision.

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Carbon Core of next-gen BMW 7 Series helps reduce sedan’s weight by up to 130 kg; remote control parking

April 18, 2015

BMW presented an initial selection of technology highlights for the next generation of the BMW 7 Series model range featuring developments in lightweight design, driving dynamics, comfort, intelligent connectivity and operation.

Due to the BMW EfficientLightweight strategy, the new BMW 7 Series line-up will weigh up to 130 kilograms (287 lbs) less than the outgoing generation of models. At its heart is a body structure with a Carbon Core based on the transfer of technology from the development of the BMW i models. The use of CFRP for structural elements of the passenger cell based on hybrid construction with ultra-high-strength steels—such as the B-pillars—increases both the overall strength and the torsional and bending stiffness of the passenger cell. To this end, the configuration of sheet metal elements can be adjusted as required, allowing for a significant reduction in the weight of the body.

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Ford, DowAksa jointly to develop carbon fiber for high-volume automotive light-weighting applications

April 17, 2015

Ford and DowAksa signed a joint development agreement (JDA) formally to advance research on cost-effective, high-volume manufacturing of automotive-grade carbon fiber, a material poised to play a significant role in the drive to make vehicles lighter. (Earlier post.)

The agreement, between Ford Motor Company, Ford Global Technologies and DowAksa (a 50/50 joint venture between The Dow Chemical Company and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.Ş.) will combine DowAksa’s feedstock capacity, carbon fiber conversion and downstream intermediates production capabilities with Ford’s expertise in design, engineering and high-volume manufacturing. The goal is to produce materials that make cost-effective carbon fiber composite parts that are much lighter than steel but meet automotive strength requirements.

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Jaguar introduces Gen 2, aluminum-intensive XF; up to 60 mpg US with diesel Ingenium engine

April 02, 2015

Jaguar has unveiled the second-generation, all-new Jaguar XF at the New York International Auto Show. The coupé-like design uses Jaguar’s aluminum-intensive (75% aluminum) architecture (earlier post) to enable weight savings of up to 190 kg (419 lbs)—making the 163PS diesel model 80 kg (176 lbs) lighter than the nearest competitor—plus an increase in torsional stiffness of up to 28%. The architecture also delivers improvements in packaging and proportions.

The powertrain range will consist of: 163PS (161 hp, 120 kW) and 180PS (178 hp, 132 kW) 2.0-liter diesel manual and automatic; RWD, 240PS (237 hp, 177 kW) 2.0-liter gasoline automatic; RWD, 300PS (296 hp, 221 kW) 3.0-liter diesel automatic; RWD and AWD, 340PS (335 hp, 250 kW) and 380PS (375 hp, 279 kW) 3.0-liter gasoline automatic. With fuel economy as low as 60 mpg US (3.94 l/100 km) (104 g/km CO2) on the European combined cycle from the Ingenium diesel (earlier post), the all-new XF delivers an improvement of almost 20% compared to its predecessor.

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BASF and Floatility partner on ultra-lightweight solar-powered electric scooter: 12kg e-floater

March 26, 2015

BASF and Floatility have partnered for the development of an ultra-lightweight and solar-powered electric scooter. Weighing less than 12 kilograms (26.5 lbs) and consisting of more than 80% composite and plastic materials from BASF, the scooter will give commuters the sensation of floating and thus has been named ‘e-floater’. The e-floater is designed to bridge the gap on the last mile between home or city center and the nearest public transport.

BASF will provide versatile plastic materials and support the project with its extensive development capabilities. Molding multiple parts to create complex shapes with plastic materials enables design freedom and the streamlined construction of the ‘e-floater’.

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DOE announces conditional commitment for $259M loan to Alcoa for automotive aluminum production

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a conditional commitment for a $259-million loan to Alcoa Inc. If finalized, the loan would support the company’s Alcoa, Tennessee, manufacturing facility (Tennessee Operations), where the company will produce high-strength aluminum for North American automakers looking to lightweight their vehicles. (Earlier post.)

This conditional commitment is the first issued by the Department under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program since Secretary Moniz announced a number of improvements to the program last year, and is the first step toward issuing a final loan to Alcoa.

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DeltaWing to develop GT race car concept; step toward street-legal DeltaWing sports car

March 23, 2015

DeltaWing Technology Group is beginning development of a DeltaWing GT race car concept. The racer will be designed to demonstrate that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unattained fuel economy and efficiency. Expected to appear in 2015, this new DeltaWing Racing Cars project is a major step toward a street-legal two-seat DeltaWing sports car, the company said.

In Mat 2014, DeltaWing released a rendering of an application of its DeltaWing aerodynamic and lightweight design architecture as a street-legal, four-passenger car. DeltaWing Technologies said at the time that it was seeking OEM partners with the ultimate goal of licensing the DeltaWing vehicle architecture that is 35% lighter, requires 35% less horsepower, and consumes 35% less fuel. (Earlier post.)

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Cadillac CT6 mixed-material body structure saves 90 kg over predominantly steel construction

March 15, 2015

Cadillac will use an advanced mixed-material approach for the lightweight body structure of the upcoming CT6 range-topping full-size sedan, which will debut 31 March at the New York International Auto Show. The structure is aluminum-intensive, but the new Cadillac also includes 13 different materials customized for each area of the car to advance driving dynamics, fuel economy and cabin quietness; the mixed material approach saved 90 kg (198 pounds) compared to a predominately steel construction.

Sixty-four percent of the CT6 body structure is aluminum, including all exterior body panels. Thirteen complex high-pressure die cast components make up the lower structure of the CT6 body, along with aluminum sheets and extrusions. The vehicle underbody uses steel close-out panels on the lower structure to create a bank vault-quiet cabin without the added weight of extensive sound-deadening material, often used to compensate for aluminum panels in the occupant compartment.

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POSTECH researchers develop new high-strength, lightweight steel

February 27, 2015

Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have developed a new type of steel with improved tensile strength and lightness. In their approach, they effectively utilized a brittle intermetallic compound (B2) that metallurgists usually try to suppress by modifying B2 morphology and dispersion in the steel matrix.

The specific tensile strength and ductility of the developed steels improve on those of the lightest and strongest metallic materials known, titanium alloys, the researchers said. The results, reported in a paper in the journal Nature, demonstrate how intermetallic compounds can be harnessed in the alloy design of lightweight steels.

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Magna unveiling lightweight plug-in hybrid sportscar at Geneva show

Global automotive supplier Magna International Inc. will debut MILA Plus, an two-seat plug-in hybrid sports car, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The lightweight (1,520 kg, 3,351 lb) concept vehicle, the latest member of the MILA family of concept vehicles (earlier post), offers an all-electric range of 75 km with reduced CO2 emissions of 32g/km.

System power output is 200 kW (272 hp), with 580 N·m of peak torque. The MILA Plus accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.9s; electric acceleration from 0-80 km/h takes 3.6s. The performance of the three-cylinder gasoline engine is enhanced by the addition of two electric motors—one between the internal combustion engine and transmission to drive the rear axle, and one on the electric front axle. This arrangement results in an electric all-wheel-drive system which transmits more torque to the road and results in improvement of vehicle maneuverability and dynamics.

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Lux: carbon fiber to go mainstream in automobiles by 2025

February 22, 2015

Driven by a faster-than-expected pace of technology development, carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs) will be poised to gain widespread adoption for automotive lightweighting by 2025, according to a new report from Lux Research, “Scaling Up Carbon Fiber: Roadmap to Automotive Adoption.”

Advances already underway in fiber, resin and composite part production will lead to a $6 billion market for automotive CFRPs in 2020, more than double Lux’s earlier projection. (Earlier post.) Even this figure is dwarfed by the full potential for CFRPs in automotive if they can become affordable enough for use in mainstream vehicles, Lux posits.

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Honda includes stop-start system in new 2016 Honda Pilot for improved fuel economy, new 9-speed (updated w/ VCM info)

February 13, 2015

Honda gave the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot SUV its global premiere at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The 2016 Pilot, launching at Honda dealerships nationwide this summer, is the third generation of Honda’s three-row midsize SUV to be designed, developed and manufactured in the US.

The 2016 Pilot features a new 3.5-liter, direct-injected i-VTEC V-6 engine with new two-stage Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder deactivation technology. For improved fuel efficiency, the 2016 Pilot will also include a stop start feature—Honda’s first non-hybrid application of this technology.

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Ricardo and Albany Engineering Composites to explore use of advanced aerospace composites in automotive; 3D composites

February 09, 2015

Aerospace composite supplier Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) and automotive engineering and consulting company Ricardo have entered into a collaborative partnership to provide composite body, chassis and other structural components to the automotive industry.

Albany Engineered Composites has demonstrated expertise in the advanced design and manufacturing of composite parts noted for their impact and damage tolerance in the aerospace market. Under the terms the agreement, Ricardo and AEC will jointly explore the use of AEC technologies such as 3D composites for providing the stiffness, strength, durability and energy absorption necessary to lightweight applications such as crash structures. Often these structures are made of metal and are difficult to replace with a lighter weight material while still maintaining performance requirements.

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DOE to award $55.8M for advanced vehicle technologies; $35M for fuel cell and hydrogen

January 22, 2015

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced a new Vehicle Technologie program-wide funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001201) for $55.8 million. DOE also announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

The Vehicle Technologies funding is targeted at a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include: advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D; Lightweight materials; Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies).

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Researchers suggest hybrid graphene oxide/cellulose microfibers could supersede carbon fibers

January 16, 2015

Researchers from Nanjing Forestry University and the University of Maryland have designed high-performance microfibers by hybridizing two-dimensional (2D) graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets and one-dimensional (1D) nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC) fibers. The resulting well-aligned, strong microfibers have the potential to supersede carbon fibers due to their low cost, the team suggests in an open access paper published in the journal NPG Asia Materials.

The hybrid microfibers are much stronger than microfibers composed of 1D NFC or 2D GO alone. In their paper, they reported that experimental results and molecular dynamics simulations reveal the synergistic effect between GO and NFC: the bonding between neighboring GO nanosheets is enhanced by NFC because the introduction of NFC provides the extra bonding options available between the nanosheets.

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Johnson Controls displays 40% lighter CAMISMA seat prototype at NAIAS; planned availability in 2019

January 15, 2015

CAMISMA seat prototype is 40% lighter than conventional seats. Click to enlarge.

Johnson Controls and its partners are working to reduce the use of metals in vehicle seat structures by replacing them with multi-material systems in the CAMISMA (carbon-amide-metal-based interior structure using a multi-material system approach) research project. (Earlier post.)

The company is displaying the CAMISMA seat prototype, which achieves a more than 40% weight reduction against conventionally manufactured seat structures without compromising safety properties, at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Johnson Controls received this year’s CLEPA (European Association of Automotive Suppliers) Innovation Award in the “Green” category for this work. According to the jury, the project represents an “outstanding, future-oriented solution for sustainable carbon dioxide reduction.

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Ford puts the pedal down on performance … but not with electric drive technology right now

January 14, 2015

The new Ford GT on display in the Ford stand at NAIAS. Click to enlarge.

In December, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said Ford would focus on five key areas of innovation, one of them being performance. He said that more than 12 new performance vehicles would be introduced through 2020. (Earlier post.) At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this week, Ford delivered first proof of that focus with the reveal of the new Ford GT carbon-fiber supercar, as well as the new F-150 Raptor based on the new aluminum F-150 and the Shelby GT350R Mustang.

The stunning Ford GT—which received the EyesOn Design Award at NAIAS for best production vehicle—serves as a technology showcase for top EcoBoost engine performance, aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber construction. Beginning production late next year, the GT will the road in select global markets in honor of the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars placing 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, unlike today’s hybrid drive Le Mans racers, or the new Acura NSX hybrid supercar, also revealed at NAIAS (earlier post), the GT—nor any of the other Ford performance vehicles unveiled at NAIAS—makes no use of electric drive technology.

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ASG life-cycle study finds aluminum Ford F-150 “Best Full-size Truck of 2015” from environmental and economic perspective

According to the latest annual life-cycle study from the Automotive Science Group (ASG), the all-new lightweight aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 leads the full-size light-duty truck competition in all environmental and economic performance areas; accordingly, ASG selected the F-150 as its Best Full-size Truck of 2015. According to ASG and the principles of ecological economics, environmental and economic considerations are equally important in determining a vehicle’s overall value. ASG’s proprietary vehicle rating platform—the Automotive Performance Index—analyzes both performance areas for a comprehensive vehicle assessment. ASG’s 2015 Study assessed 225 light-duty truck models.

Although the gasoline-fueled F-150 with 2.7L EcoBoost delivers 22 mpg (10.68 l/100 km) combined—1 mpg shy of RAM’s EcoDiesel—the F-150’s life-cycle environmental and economic performance “leaves RAM and others in the dust,” according to ASG. According to ASG, the 2015 F-150 holds the smallest life-cycle carbon footprint and lowest cost of ownership of any full-size truck in the North American market today. Ford has produced a lightweight aluminum-intensive truck that costs less and performs better than its conventional truck counterparts over the vehicle’s life-cycle, says Colby Self, managing director of ASG.

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University of Tennessee to head $250M advanced composites manufacturing institute; Ford, Honda and Volkswagen members

January 09, 2015

The Department of Energy and a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, and universities led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville will invest more than $250 million—$70 million in federal funds and more than $180 million in non-federal funds—to launch a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites—the fifth institute to be awarded of the eight national institute competitions launched earlier (earlier post).

The new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), announced today by President Obama, will focus on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites that combine strong fibers with tough plastics to yield materials that are lighter and stronger than steel. While advanced composites are used in selective industries such as aircraft, satellites and cars, these materials remain expensive, require large amounts of energy to manufacture and are difficult to recycle. IACMI is dedicated to overcoming these barriers by developing low-cost, high-production, energy-efficient manufacturing and recycling processes for composites applications.

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ARPA-E issues $125M open solicitation for energy R&D; transportation and stationary applications

January 07, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a $125-million open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). OPEN 2015 (DOE-FOA-0001261) will support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies in all areas of energy research and development, for both transportation and stationary applications.

OPEN 2015 is the third open funding solicitation issued by the agency. Open solicitations ensure that ARPA-E does not miss opportunities to support potentially transformational projects outside the scope of existing ARPA-E programs. The projects selected under OPEN 2015 will pursue novel approaches to energy innovation and support the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.

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New high-entropy alloy is as light as aluminum, stronger than titanium alloys

December 11, 2014

Ashby plot of strength vs. density for engineering materials. (Yield strength for metals and polymers, tear strength for elastomers, compressive strength for ceramics, and tensile strength for composites.) The low-density HEA is indicated with the star. Youssef et al. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from North Carolina State University and Qatar University have developed a new high-entropy alloy that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio that they say is unmatched by any other metallic material. The researchers used mechanical alloying to combine lithium, magnesium, titanium, aluminum and scandium to make a low-density, nanocrystalline alloy (Al20Li20Mg10Sc20Ti30) with an estimated strength-to-weight ratio that is significantly higher than other nanocrystalline alloys and is comparable to ceramics. An open access paper on their work is published in the journal Materials Research Letters.

High-entropy alloys (HEAs) are a new class of multi-component alloy systems in which the design of the alloys is based not on adding to a single base element, but on choosing elements that will form solid solutions when mixed at near-equiatomic concentrations. (Earlier post.) HEAs

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Alcoa unveils major advance in aluminum manufacturing technology; new Micromill targeting future automotive aluminum products

December 06, 2014

Alcoa’s Micromill has a much smaller footprint than conventional direct casting technology, and produces automotive aluminum alloys with 40% greater formability and 30% greater strength. Click to enlarge.

Alcoa has developed new manufacturing technology—the Micromill—that will produce what the company says is the most advanced aluminum sheet on the market. The Micromill will enable the next-generation of automotive aluminum products, and equip Alcoa to capture growing demand from automakers for lighter-weight, yet durable and formable materials.

The Alcoa-patented Micromill process significantly changes the microstructure of the metal, allowing the production of an aluminum alloy for automotive applications that has 40% greater formability and 30% greater strength than the incumbent aluminum used today while meeting stringent automotive surface quality requirements. The Alcoa Micromill technology and the differentiated metal it will produce are covered by more than 130 patents around the world.

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DSM wins SPE Automotive Innovation Award for bio-based EcoPaXX integrated crankshaft cover for Volkswagen Group diesels

November 14, 2014

EcoPaXX crankshaft cover. Click to enlarge.

A lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in Royal DSM’s EcoPaXX high-performance polyamide 410 was top in the Powertrain category at the Society of Plastics Engineers Automotive Division Innovation Awards Competition and Gala in Detroit. The 70% bio-based EcoPaXX is made principally from topical castor beans and is 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate. Castor oil is obtained from the Ricinus Communis plant, which grows in tropical regions on relatively poor soil, and does not compete with the food-chain.

The EcoPaXX crankshaft cover is produced by DSM’s automotive component specialist partner KACO in Germany for the latest generation of MDB-4 TDI diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. The engines are fitted to various car models made by VW, Audi, Seat and Škoda. Dr. Lutz Wohlfarth from Volkswagen, and Marcio Lima from KACO were both at the Gala in Detroit to collect the SPE award.

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Mercedes-Benz wins MATERIALICA awards for diesel passenger car steel pistons and CFRP struts

October 25, 2014

Mercedes-Benz received two MATERIALICA Design and Technology Awards at the MATERIALICA 2014 trade fair for materials applications, surface technology and product engineering in Munich. The first was for the new steel pistons for diesel engines (earlier post), the second for high-strength carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) struts.

The MATERIALICA Award 2014 comprised five categories: Material; Surface & Technology; Product; CO2 Efficiency; and Student. The MATERIALICA Design + Technology Award focuses on product and technological developments in all sectors which implement a successful bundling of competencies.

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Visio.M partners present new lightweight EV; 13.5 kWh pack delivers ~100 mile range

October 20, 2014

Visio.M EV. Click to enlarge.

The academic and industry partners in the Visio.M consortium (earlier post) are showcasing their new lightweight urban electric vehicle at eCarTec in Munich. The 2.5-year project was funded under the priority program “Key Technologies for Electric Mobility - STROM” of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) with a total budget of €10.8 million (US$13.7 million).

The Visio.M has a range of around 160 kilometers (99 miles) and can accommodate two people with luggage. With only a 15 kW motor, the vehicle reaches a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). The electric motor in Visio.M draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the seats, which consists of consumer cells and provides a capacity of 13.5 kWh.

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Industry report says steel can deliver weight savings to meet CAFE targets; aluminum growth in LDVs to peak around 2018

October 06, 2014

Steel can easily deliver the weight savings required to meet federally mandated fuel economy targets for most vehicles, according to a new 300-page analysis by the steel-industry information service World Steel Dynamics: “AutoBody Warfare: Aluminum Attack.” The report, based on WSD’s independent consultation with steel, aluminum and automotive experts, is formally being presented to steel executives today at the worldsteel Annual Conference in Moscow.

The report, say the authors, comes in the context of the “high-stakes contest” between the world’s leading steel and aluminum companies instigated by the rise in the US Government’s CAFE standards. Aluminum companies are in an “ebullient mood”, WSD says, due in part to the aluminum-bodied 2015 Ford F-150 (earlier post) and an Aluminum Association report, authored by the Ducker Worldwide consulting group, forecasting that by 2025 three-in-four pickup trucks will have an all-aluminum body. (Earlier post.)

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