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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.]

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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Renault upgrades heavy-duty Trucks T for lower fuel consumption, higher payload

March 17, 2016

Less than three years after its launch and positive feedback from customers, Renault is upgrading the heavy-duty Trucks T to help it be even more cost efficient for its users. The 2016 version of the T benefits from improvements to the chassis and driveline, enabling it to reduce its consumption by up to a further 2%, while at the same time increasing the payload by up to 114 kg (251 lbs). It is also introducing Optivision, a predictive cruise control system with GPS.

Renault pursued three main tracks in the upgrade, in addition to basic engine efficiency improvements: improving the aerodynamics to reduce fuel consumption; reducing the weight to increase payload; and encouraging eco-driving by means of a predictive GPS navigation system, said Sophie Rivière, the Long Haul segment manager at Renault Trucks

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New lineup of Intelligent Power Devices from Renesas contribute to reduced vehicle weight; high-current load switch applications

March 15, 2016

Renesas Electronics announced the availability of six new intelligent power devices (IPDs) for automotive motor and heater control applications. The devices provide an extremely reliable, high-performance solution compared with mechanical relays that switch the current flow on and off in electronic control units (ECUs).

An IPD is a power IC device that integrates in a single package control circuits that implement protection functions and self-diagnostic functions, in addition to power MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) switching element(s). The IPDs are compact, lightweight, power efficient, and not subject to the contact wear and tear that affects mechanical relays, enabling highly reliable systems with self-protection functions.

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Continental Structural Plastics and Mitsubishi Rayon exploring joint venture for carbon fiber automotive structural components

March 08, 2016

Continental Structural Plastics (CSP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC), regarding the development and manufacturing of innovative carbon fiber structural components for the automotive industry in North America. Under the MoU, CSP and MRC will begin detailed studies to substantiate the establishment of an equity-based joint venture.

Specifically, the new joint venture will produce compression molded components made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic materials, which could include carbon fiber sheet molded compound (SMC) and/or Pre-preg carbon fiber Compression Molding (PCM).These components will include Class A body panels, as well as non-class A structural automotive applications including: pillars; engine cradles or supports; radiator supports; frames and rails; bumper beams; underbody shields; door inners and intrusion beams.

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Faurecia using flax-based composite in Urban Liftgate demonstrator

March 07, 2016

Faurecia’s recently introduced Urban Liftgate demonstrator is a showcase for several innovations designed to rethink the rear-end of vehicles. Among the innovations is the use of a new type of composite made of natural flax fibers instead of carbon.

Although the flax-based composite is not comparable mechanically to carbon fiber composites, said Laurent Gillard, Senior Engineering Manager, it has its own intersting properties and offers a lower-cost than carbon fiber and an environmentally friendly solution for lightweighting. The flax-fiber composite provides a weight savings of around 45% Gillard said—in the ballpark of the estimated 50% weight savings from carbon fiber.

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Toyota and Yanmar to collaborate on marine development and products; Toyota Hybrid Hulls

March 05, 2016

Toyota Motor Corporation and Yanmar Co., Ltd. have reached a wide-ranging agreement to collaborate on technical development, production, and mutual parts use in the marine industry. A concept craft previewing the first product developed under this collaboration was on display at the Japan International Boat Show this week.

Toyota currently manufactures and sells aluminum-hulled pleasure crafts equipped with automotive engines. Yanmar is an industrial device manufacturer that has specialized in industrial diesel engines. The company also manufactures marine engines, as well as fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) fishing boats and industrial vessels.

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Toho Tenax develops integrated production system for CFRP; projects in automotive

March 02, 2016

Toho Tenax Europe GmbH (TTE), the German subsidiary of Toho Tenax, itself the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed an integrated production system for carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) that enables manufactured composite parts to be optimized for required shapes and properties.

The new production system uses a high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process and TTE’s own one-step carbon fiber to part technology, called Part via Preform (PvP), which it developed in 2014. One European automaker has already adopted this system and other projects are under way in the automotive industry.

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DOE launches Energy Materials Network with $40M for first year

February 25, 2016

The US Department of Energy launched the Energy Materials Network (EMN), a new National Laboratory-led initiative. Leveraging $40 million in federal funding in its first year, EMN will focus on tackling one of the major barriers to widespread commercialization of clean energy technologies: the design, testing, and production of advanced materials. By strengthening and facilitating industry access to the unique scientific and technical advanced materials innovation resources available at DOE’s National Labs, the network will help bring these materials to market more quickly.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is providing the funding to establish EMN’s four initial National Laboratory-led consortia and solicit proposals for collaborative R&D projects with industry and academia. Each EMN consortium will bring together National Labs, industry, and academia to focus on specific classes of materials aligned with industry’s most pressing challenges related to materials for clean energy technologies.

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Faurecia wins JEC World 2016 Innovation Award for “one-shot” composite manufacturing process; mass production slated for 2018

Faurecia has won a JEC World 2016 Innovation Award for its “one-shot” manufacturing process for visible composite parts; the approach combines structure and aspect in a single part. The technology makes it possible to insert a pre-heated thermoplastic composite reinforcement into the injection mold and secure it in a stable position.

The efficient process was demonstrated on a plastic tailgate with a pre-impregnated (prepreg) glass fiber reinforcement and is particularly suited to tailgates, lower tailgates and semi‑structural parts. The main benefits of this process are improvements in weight, quality, cost and cycle times.

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New SwRI consortium to target advances in gasoline and diesel engine aluminum cylinder head designs

February 09, 2016

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced the formation of a new consortium in partnership with leading castings solutions provider Grainger & Worrall (G&W) to advance automotive cylinder head designs. The Aluminum Head Evaluation, Analysis, and Durability (AHEAD) consortium seeks to reduce the weight while improving the durability of aluminum cylinder heads—an increasingly important need as materials and components are pushed to their limits in modern engines.

Initially, AHEAD will target advances for aluminum cylinder heads used in both gasoline and diesel engines, such as casting processes, structural design, measurement and prediction of residual stresses, and aluminum alloy materials that resist high-temperatures. More advanced projects could include new alloy development, cylinder head transient analysis, materials characterization, and others.

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Toho Tenax develops energy-saving, high-productivity carbonizing process and surface treatment technologies for CFRP

January 18, 2016

Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed innovative microwave carbonization and plasma surface treatment technologies to support the increased production and use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in automobiles, high-speed railcars and aircraft.

Toho Tenax is now working to commercialize the technologies for mass production in the coming future, when CFRP is expected to be used on an increasingly large scale. For CFRP solutions broadly incorporating everything from raw materials to composite materials, the company has been placing a special emphasis on reducing production-use energy and CO2 emissions by 50% while improving productivity.

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UCLA researchers develop exceptionally strong and lightweight new metal nanocomposite

December 24, 2015

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal nanocomposite with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ratio. The new metal is composed of magnesium infused with a dense and even dispersal of ceramic silicon carbide nanoparticles. It could be used to make lighter airplanes, spacecraft, and cars, helping to improve fuel efficiency, as well as in mobile electronics and biomedical devices.

To create the super-strong but lightweight metal, the team developed a new way to disperse and stabilize nanoparticles in molten metals. They also developed a scalable manufacturing method that could pave the way for more high-performance lightweight metals. A paper on their work is published today in Nature.

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Lux: 48V microhybridization could prove to be cost-effective means of achieving 2025 CAFE targets

December 21, 2015

Lux Research has built a bottom-up model for automotive innovation for fuel economy improvements to analyze the cost-effectiveness of all the various pathways for meeting regulatory fuel consumption and emissions targets.

The roadmap to reducing fuel consumption and emissions from the automotive sector has many options—including lightweight materials, increasing electrification, autonomy, and alternative fuels—but picking the right mix of options is tricky.

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Ford and Corning introduce lightweight Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield technology on Ford GT

December 17, 2015

Ford and Corning have developed Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield technology—a light-weighting innovation set to debut on the all-new Ford GT. The Gorilla Glass hybrid is thinner and about 30% lighter than traditional laminate glass, and will improve Ford GT handling by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity and positively impact acceleration, fuel economy and braking performance. The Gorilla Glass hybrid window will be used on both the windshield and rear engine cover of Ford GT.

When tasked with developing lightweight and advanced material vehicle applications, the Ford team approached Corning, a recognized leader in materials science that introduced light and durable Gorilla Glass to the consumer electronics market in 2007. Interested in further exploring potential automotive applications, Ford engaged Corning to help research and develop a unique formulation for exterior vehicle glass.

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GM applies Gen 3 advanced high-strength steel in new vehicle for China; 1,200 MPa Q&P steel

December 03, 2015

General Motors is applying third-generation advanced high-strength steel to the new Chevrolet LOVA RV from SAIC-GM, thereby reducing the weight of selected body components by approximately 20%. The recreational vehicle (RV) was launched on 19 November 2015.

The new steel offers a superior balance of strength and ductility as compared to the first generation of high-strength steels. The fuel economy of a vehicle is generally considered to increase by 6 to 8% for every 10% reduction in body weight.

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EuroCarBody Award 2015 goes to the Carbon Core body of the new BMW 7 Series

November 12, 2015

The Carbon Core body structure of the new BMW 7 Series has been awarded the EuroCarBody Award 2015 at the 17th Global Car Body Benchmarking Conference. The body of the new BMW luxury sedans was given a rating of 41.87 out of 50 possible points—the best score ever to be obtained in this competition. The EuroCarBody Award has been announced at the annual conference of experts every year since 2002 and is regarded as a leading award for innovations in car body construction.

The Carbon Core used for the body structure is the central element of the BMW EfficientLightweight Technology that was applied particularly consistently in the development of the sixth generation of the BMW 7 Series. For the first time in a volume-production automobile, a composite of CFRP, aluminium and super high-strength steels was created which increases rigidity and stiffness in the passenger cell while at the same time significantly reducing the vehicle weight.

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Argonne study finds lightweight material substitution increases vehicle-cycle GHGs, but results in total life-cycle benefit

October 12, 2015

A team at Argonne National Laboratory has taken a closer look at vehicle-cycle (all processes related to vehicle manufacturing) and vehicle total life-cycle (vehicle-cycle plus fuel cycle—i.e., the use phase) impacts of substituting lightweight materials into vehicles.

In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while material substitution can reduce vehicle weight, it often increases vehicle-cycle greenhouse gas emissions GHGs—for example, replacing steel with wrought aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP), or magnesium increases the vehicle-cycle GHGs. However, lifetime fuel economy benefits often outweigh the vehicle-cycle, resulting in a net total life-cycle GHG benefit, they found. This is the case for steel replaced by wrought aluminum in all assumed cases, and for CFRP and magnesium except for high substitution ratio and low fuel reduction value.

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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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