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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.]

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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Daimler/Secar CRP hybrid struts receive AVK Innovation AWARD; intelligent material mix allows large-scale production

December 01, 2016

As part of a development project, researchers at Daimler AG and the Austrian CRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastics) applications specialist Secar Technologie GmbH have developed an innovative new CRP composite pultrusion process enabling carbon fibers and metal to be pultruded in profile form in larger volumes.

Pultrusion is a continuous molding process in which reinforcing fibers are saturated with a liquid polymer resin and then carefully formed and pulled through a heated die to form a part. Pultrusion results in straight constant cross section parts of virtually any shippable length.

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Divergent 3D partners with Altran to deploy 3D printing for car manufacturing

October 25, 2016

Divergent 3D, a manufacturing technology company focused on the automotive sector, has entered into a global development partnership with engineering research and development (ER&D) firm Altran. The partnership comes shortly following Divergent 3D’s signing a strategic partnership letter of intent with top-ten global automaker PSA Group. Divergent 3D is commercializing a software-hardware platform for manufacturing that leverages 3D metal printing.

Under the agreement, Altran has invested in Divergent 3D and will provide support to accelerate implementation and licensing of its manufacturing technology platform across the continent as part of Altran’s new vehicle architecture initiatives. Together, the companies intend to help automakers leverage 3D printing to unleash design innovation while cutting costs, time-to-market and environmental impact.

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2017 Audi Q7 now available with 2.0-liter TFSI turbo-charged four-cylinder engine; lower entry point to premium SUV

October 20, 2016

Audi of America is offering a new 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine on 2017 Audi Q7 models. This new model, when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine, is half a second faster on the 0-60 mph sprint; nearly 500 pounds lighter; and up to 22% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation Q7 3.0T V6.

With the 2.0 TFSI, Audi is creating a value proposition that makes entry into the luxury full-size SUV more accessible. The starting MSRP ($49,000) (Premium trim) is $5,800 below the current entry point of $54,800 for the Premium 3.0 TFSI; pricing for the 2.0L Premium Plus trim starts at $53,000 ($1,800 below the current entry point and $5,800 below the Premium Plus 3.0 TFSI). The specifications of the 2.0- and 3.0-liter engined cars are virtually the same except for the engine; the inlays which are a mix of aluminum and wood on the lower and upper dash vs all wood; and 18-inch wheels instead of 19-inch wheels.

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BASF and Hyundai Motor showcase RN30 concept at K Fair; new lightweight and performance materials

October 14, 2016

Hyundai Motor unveiled the RN30 high-perfromance concept at the Paris Motor Show in September. At the upcoming 2016 K Fair—the leading global trade fair for plastics and rubber—in Düsseldorf from 19-26 October, BASF and Hyundai will showcase some of the new lightweighting and high-performance materials technology that went into the car.

The RN30, jointly developed by BASF and Hyundai Motor Company, combines key solutions from the chemical industry with purposeful aerodynamic design and specialized high-performance technologies.

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CarboSax: new joint venture for more sustainable carbon fiber production forms in Germany

October 13, 2016

PD Glasseiden, a Germany-based producer of fiberglass; European Carbon Fiber GmbH; and the ForschungsCampus Open Hybrid LabFactory e.V., established under the auspices of the Lower Saxony Research Centre for Vehicle Technology at the TU Braunschweig and Volkswagen AG have formed a joint venture—CarboSax GmbH—to pursue developing, manufacturing and distributing more sustainable carbon fibers in Germany.

In the first step at a location in Chemnitz, Saxony, CarboSax will build a pilot line for the sustainable production of carbon fibers. The objective of this carbon fiber pilot line production is a significant reduction in production costs by 30% over currently available commercial carbon fibers. This cost reduction is required to further enable the use of carbon fiber in mass production in the automotive industry, mechanical engineering and wind power. An equal objective is a reduction of at least 50% in CO2 emissions from carbon fiber production.

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Kiel nanoscale-sculpturing makes metal surfaces strong, resistant, and multifunctional; multi-material joining

September 08, 2016

Researchers at the University of Kiel (Germany) have developed a new process—which they call “nanoscale-sculpturing”—for the surface preparation of metals.

Nanoscale-sculpturing, which is based on knowledge from semiconductor etching, turns surfaces of everyday metals into their most stable configuration, but leaves the bulk properties unaffected. Thus, nanoscale-sculpturing ensures stronger, reliable joints to nearly all materials, reduces corrosion vastly, and generates a multitude of multifunctional surface properties. An open-access paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Nanoscale Horizons.

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DOE HPC4Mfg program funds 13 projects to advance US manufacturing; welding, Li-S batteries among projects

August 31, 2016

A US Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance US manufacturing has funded 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.8 million. Among the projects selected are one by GM and EPRI of California to improve welding techniques for automobile manufacturing and power plant builds in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Another one of the 13 projects is led by Sepion Technologies, which will partner with LBNL to make new membranes to increase the lifetime of Li-S batteries for hybrid airplanes.

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LeMond Composites licenses ORNL low-cost carbon fiber manufacturing process; transportation, renewable energy, & infrastructure

August 30, 2016

LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, has licensed a low-cost, high-volume carbon fiber manufacturing process developed at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). (Earlier post.) The agreement will make Oak Ridge-based LeMond Composites the first company to offer carbon fiber produced by the process to the transportation, renewable energy, and infrastructure markets.

Invented by LeMond CEO Connie Jackson and a research team at ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF), the process is projected to reduce production costs by more than 50% relative to the lowest-cost industrial-grade carbon fiber.

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AK Steel introduces NEXMET family of next generation high strength steels for automotive lightweighting

August 22, 2016

AK Steel launched NEXMET, an new family of high strength steels for use in automotive lightweighting applications. These products are specifically designed to assist automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in meeting 2025 US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) targets.

AK Steel’s NEXMET family of products will offer high strength, greater ductility (elongation), and improved formability solutions for a range of needs for structural and exterior automotive body lightweighting uses.

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IACMI, DuPont and Purdue partner on automotive carbon-fiber composites

August 18, 2016

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, IACMI, in partnership with DuPont Performance Materials, Fibrtec Inc. and Purdue University, has launched the first project selected with a dual focus on decreasing the cost of manufacture and increasing design flexibility for automotive composites. Advancements in both areas can open up new opportunities and become an enabler for large-scale deployment of composite parts.

Multiple factors, including cost and design constraints, present barriers to the adoption of composites in high volume automotive applications. This new IACMI project will address both of these critical areas through a fundamentally different approach to the manufacturing of carbon fiber composites versus those currently in use today.

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CNT nanostiches strengthen laminated composites

August 03, 2016

A team from MIT and Saab AB has found a way to bond composite layers in such a way that the resulting material is substantially stronger and more resistant to damage than other advanced composites. Their results are published this week in the journal Composites Science and Technology.

The team reinforced aerospace-grade unidirectional carbon fiber laminate interfaces with high densities (>10 billion fibers per cm2) of aligned carbon nanotubes (A-CNTs) that act as nano-scale “stitches”. Such nano-scale fiber reinforcement of the ply interfaces has already been shown to increase interlaminar fracture toughness; the MIT researchers showed that laminate in-plane strengths are also increased via the technique.

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Pitt engineers using LLNL electron microscope to study rapid solidification of aluminum alloys

August 02, 2016

University of Pittsburgh engineers will utilize a unique transmission electron microscope developed and housed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) to better understand how microstructures form in metals and alloys as they solidify after laser beam melting.

Under a three-year, $500,000-grant from the National Science Foundation, Jorg Wiezorek, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Pitt, and his team will continue to use the Lab’s dynamic transmission electron microscope (DTEM) to study the rapid solidification of aluminum alloys associated with laser or electron beam processing technologies, including welding, joining and additive manufacturing.

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Cadillac and ContiTech win 2016 Altair Enlighten Awards for innovation in automotive vehicle lightweighting

Simulation technology company Altair, together with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), announced the winners of the 4th annual Altair Enlighten Award an award program created specifically to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

The winner of the OEM-focused Full-Vehicle category was GM for the 2016 Cadillac CT6, a vehicle 157 lbs (71 kg) lighter than the BFI (body frame integral) construction. For the Module category, which focuses on the achievements from within the automotive supplier base, the winner was ContiTech for its unique polyamide rear crossbeam for the 2016 Mercedes S-Class. The awards were presented during the 2016 CAR Management Briefing Seminars (MBS) in Traverse City, Mich.

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SMDI releases steel roadmap for automotive; Gen3 AHSS

Over the past 10 years, new steel innovations have reduced automotive component and sub-system mass by nearly 25%; some studies have shown mass savings up to 29% versus traditional mild steel benchmarks. The Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI)—a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)—has now released its 2016 Steel Industry Technology Roadmap for Automotive.

The roadmap outlines the long-term technology needs to support future automotive material selection decisions with advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) including, optimized design, fuel economy, strength and durability, environmental performance and value.

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LLNL researchers build scalable ultra-lightweight and flexible 3D-printed metallic materials

July 21, 2016

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) engineers have achieved unprecedented scalability in 3D-printed architectures of arbitrary geometry, opening the door to super-strong, ultra-lightweight and flexible metallic materials for aerospace, the military and the automotive industry.

In a study published in Nature Materials, the LLNL engineers report building multiple layers of fractal-like lattices with features ranging from the nanometer to centimeter scale, resulting in a nickel-plated metamaterial with a high elasticity not found in any previously built metal foams or lattices.

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Lamborghini inaugurates new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory carbon fiber research center in Seattle

June 21, 2016

Automobili Lamborghini celebrated the grand opening of its new Seattle-based carbon fiber research facility, the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL). Operating as an entity outside of the company's headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the ACSL is responsible for unlocking new potential in carbon fiber.

Seattle is a strategic location for the ACSL, particularly because of its collaboration with Boeing in working toward carbon fiber innovations that are beneficial in both automotive and aerospace applications. The grand opening of the new ACSL also marks the 30th anniversary of Lamborghini’s use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer in its vehicles.

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Novelis commissions $120M finishing line for automotive aluminum sheet; importance of the closed-loop recycling program

May 26, 2016

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, celebrated the commissioning of its third CASH (Continuous Annealing Solution Heat) treatment finishing line for aluminum automotive sheet in Oswego, NY. Installed to support the production of stronger, lighter and safer vehicles, the $120-million CASH 3 line expands the company’s production to supply aluminum sheet for the body and cargo box of Ford’s 2017 F-150 SuperDuty pickups. The CASH 1 and 2 lines supply aluminum for Ford’s F-150. With the addition of the third CASH line in Oswego, Novelis has furthered its position as the leading automotive aluminum sheet supplier in North America.

The commissioning of the CASH 3 line also marks the expansion of the benchmark closed-loop recycling program—developed by Novelis, Ford and Penske—which processes roughly 25 million pounds of automotive aluminum scrap per month—more than enough to build 30,000 F-150 bodies. (Earlier post.) Recycled aluminum, which requires significantly less energy and water, avoids 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production.

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DSD and Solvay partner on use of structural plastics for lighter and more efficient transmissions

Automotive engineering consultancy Drive System Design (DSD) and international chemical and advanced materials company, Solvay SA, have entered a development partnership to make the large scale use of structural plastic composites in transmissions a viable solution for future vehicles. DSD is contributing the transmission know-how while Solvay the materials expertise.

There is an immediate weight saving from substituting plastic materials for conventional metal castings but equally important is the potential for improved efficiency due to the greater inherent damping provided by polymeric materials, the partners said. This permits the use of gears that are much more efficient but would have unacceptable noise characteristics in a conventional casing.

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Airbus APWorks unveils 3D-printed electric motorcycle; 35kg total, 6kg bionic structure frame

May 22, 2016

APWorks, a 100% subsidiary of Airbus Group, has unveiled the first 3D-printed motorcycle. Dubbed the Light Rider, the motorcycle is made using APWorks’ Scalmalloy material, and weighs only 35 kg (77 lbs). With a 6 kW electric motor powering it from zero to 80 km per hour in just seconds and a frame weighing a mere 6 kg (13 lbs), the world’s first 3D-printed electric motorcycle is 30% lighter than conventionally manufactured e-motorcycles.

Scalmalloy is one of the latest new materials developed by Airbus Group. It is a second-generation aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy (AlMgSc), and was developed for high and very high-strength extrusions, offering exceptionally high fatigue properties. Specifically developed for additive layer manufacturing (ALM)-based production, the material combines high strength with an extraordinary level of ductility, making it an especially interesting material to use for highly solicited parts in lightweight robotics, automotive and aerospace applications.

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ORNL team develops laser process for lower cost, more robust joining of carbon fiber and aluminum

May 20, 2016

Researchers led by a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new laser process that could make joining carbon fiber composites and aluminum for lightweight cars and other multi-material high-end products less expensive—as well as making the joints more robust.

The process would replace the practice of preparing the surface of the materials by hand using abrasive pads, grit blasting and environmentally harmful solvents. Using a laser to remove layers of material from surfaces prior to bonding improves the performance of the joints and provides a path toward automation for high-volume use.

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Max Planck, MIT researchers develop new strategy for high-entropy alloys; overcoming the strength/ductility tradeoff

May 19, 2016

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Dusseldorf, Germany, and MIT have developed a novel strategy to design nanostructured, bulk high-entropy alloys (HEAs) (earlier post) with multiple compositionally equivalent high-entropy phases. The new approach is described in a paper this week in the journal Nature.

The result, says C. Cem Tasan, the Thomas B. King Career Development Professor of Metallurgy in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, also challenges the conventional wisdom that improving the strength of a metal alloy is always a tradeoff that results in a loss of ductility.

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ORNL exclusively licenses plasma processing technology for carbon fiber production to RMX Technologies; 75% less energy, 20% lower cost

May 13, 2016

RMX Technologies and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an exclusive licensing agreement for a new technology that significantly reduces the time and energy needed in the production of carbon fiber. Combing these benefits with a low-cost precursor currently in development, the result can be a carbon fiber product that is 40% less expensive to manufacture than current commercial products.

The ORNL/RMX plasma processing technology is a new approach to the oxidation stage of carbon fiber production in which polymer materials are oxidized (or stabilized) before carbonization. During oxidation, the thermoplastic precursor is converted to a thermoset material that can no longer be melted. Oxidation is the most time-consuming phase of the multistep carbon fiber conversion process.

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Hemming of thin-gauge AHSS achieves 30% weight savings

May 12, 2016

The Auto/Steel Partnership (announced that the Hemming of Thin Gauge Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) project achieved a 30% weight savings using thinner gauge AHSS for automotive closure panels.

Hemming is a forming operation which is used in the automotive industry to join two sheet metal panels together. During the process, the flange of the outer panel is bent over the inner one. It is commonly used to assemble the outer parts of a car, such as doors, hoods, trunk leads and fenders. The accuracy of the hemming operation is very important as it affects the surface appearance and thus influences surface quality

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Novelis supplying aluminum for Cadillac CT6 in N America and China

May 10, 2016

Aluminum rolling and recycling leader Novelis announced that its aluminum is used in the new 2016 Cadillac CT6 body. The new mixed material vehicle construction featured in the Cadillac CT6 represents a first of its kind for General Motors (GM) in North America and China. (Earlier post.)

In North America, Novelis’ plant in Kingston, ON will supply GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Detroit, Michigan. Novelis’ plant in Changzhou, China will supply GM’s Shanghai plant, which will produce the CT6 manufactured locally in China.

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NanoSteel and AK Steel deliver next-gen advanced high-strength steel to GM

April 21, 2016

NanoSteel, a leader in nanostructured steel materials (earlier post), announced the delivery of its first advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) to General Motors for initial testing. GM Ventures invested in NanoSteel in 2012. (Earlier post.)

Designed to provide automakers with a new standard in material performance, the sheet steel is poised to accelerate vehicle lightweighting initiatives focused on affordably meeting rising global fuel-economy regulations. Production of the material, targeted to the $100 billion-plus automotive steel market, is the result of a multi-year joint development program between NanoSteel and AK Steel Corporation—an industry-leading innovator in steel product development.

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Outokumpu and Fraunhofer Institute develop lightweight stainless steel battery pack for EVs; up to 20% weight reduction

April 19, 2016

Finland-based stainless steel expert Outokumpu is working on lightweight stainless steel solutions for electric vehicles in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, in Germany. Their latest innovation is a new battery pack that combines several lightweight engineering technologies as well as new types of cooling and structural strategies.

The Forta H1000 fully-austenitic, ultra-high-strength stainless steel (an advanced manganese-chromium alloy) from Outokumpu enables the implementation of structural lightweight engineering initiatives, while providing a high level of safety.

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BAIC BJEV in strategic cooperation with Dresden University of Technology for lightweighting technology

April 14, 2016

Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd. (BAIC BJEV), a subsidiary of BAIC, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Dresden University of Technology (TUD) to create the Sino-German Automotive Light Weighting Technology Joint R&D Center. The two also entered into a letter of intent on the establishment of Sino-German Automotive Light Weighting Technology Engineering Center Co., Ltd. TUD Distinguished Senior Professor Werner Hufenbach was named chief scientist in lightweight technology for BAIC BJEV.

The Sino-German Light Weighting R&D Center will become the company’s fifth overseas R&D center. BAIC BJEV has been building its global R&D network in its core areas, i.e. electric and smart technologies, by establishing oversea R&D centers in Silicon Valley, USA; Aachen, Germany; Detroit, USA; and Barcelona, Spain. (Earlier post.)

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PNNL team develops higher-strength, lower-cost titanium alloy aimed at improving vehicle fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions

April 02, 2016

An improved titanium alloy—stronger than any commercial titanium alloy currently on the market—gets its strength from the novel way atoms are arranged to form a special nanostructure. For the first time, a team led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have been able to see this alignment and then manipulate it to make the strongest titanium alloy (hierarchical nanostructured Ti-185, or HNS Ti-185) yet developed. On top of the gains in strength, the new alloy benefits from a lower cost process.

In an open access paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers note that that material is an excellent candidate for producing lighter vehicle parts, and that this newfound understanding may lead to creation of other high strength alloys.

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ORNL seeking US manufacturers to license new carbon fiber process; reduces cost up to 50% and energy up to 60%

March 24, 2016

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a production method they estimate will reduce the cost of carbon fiber as much as 50% and the energy used in its production by more than 60%. After extensive analysis and successful prototyping by industrial partners, ORNL is making the new process available for licensing.

A detailed analysis of the new process compared to a published baseline for conventional carbon fiber production examined manufacturing cost of nine major process steps, starting with the precursor and pretreatment and finishing with surface treatment, sizing, winding, inspection and shipping. The analysis revealed the new process yields significant reductions in materials, capital and labor costs resulting in an overall manufacturing cost reduction of up to 50%. Details of the cost analysis will be shared with the prospective licensees.

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