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BASF, L&L Products and Stellantis recognized for lightweighting achievement with composite tunnel for 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

BASF, L&L Products and Stellantis have been recognized for lightweighting success on the composite tunnel for the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. The vehicle, which launched in May, just won the Altair Enlighten Award for achievements in vehicle weight savings.The composite tunnel delivers a 40% weight reduction compared to previous version.

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While researching opportunities to reduce mass and improve durability without compromising safety performance, the transmission mounting system (TMS) was one area of focus. The composite tunnel reinforcement (CTR) is located on the underside of the vehicle and is part of the overall TMS.

In the event a vehicle collides slightly with an opposing vehicle, for example, the CTR transfers the energy load from the outer rail to the transmission mount crossmember, improving performance in the field and in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) standards small offset rigid barrier test.

The use of Continuous Composite Systems (CCS) pultrusion technology along with polyurethane chemistry from BASF were key factors in the success of the CTR. CCS combines a fiber-reinforced pultruded composite carrier with highly engineered sealants and adhesives in a two-dimensional profile. This is a continuous process used to create straight or curved composite profiles reinforced with continuous fibers and mats. The system is designed to provide strength, stiffness, and rigidity to a lightweight structure.

CCS enabled L&L Products and Stellantis to realize a new design that reduces packaging along with mass and uses the surrounding environment on the vehicle to help transition loads to the CTR. We also made technology improvements to achieve an industry first in processing speeds as we doubled the typical profile pultrusion output.

—Hank Richardson, Product Engineering Manager, L&L Products

This was also the first application for L&L Products using their CCS technology and BASF’s Elastocoat 74850 polyurethane pultrusion system.

Our Elastocoat polyurethane chemistry coupled with continuous glass fiber has a superior strength to weight ratio in comparison to ultra-high strength steel when used in these kinds of applications. We also developed a new computer simulation methodology using our proprietary CAE modeling software Ultrasim to capture the behavior of the pultruded structures to accurately capture the additional load after failure that a composite provides.

—Chris Korson, Chassis Market Segment Manager, Performance Materials, BASF Corporation

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