Prospects for composites in automobile manufacturing

At the recent 6th Aachen-Dresden Textile Conference held in Dresden, Germany, Heinrich Timm of Audi summarised the prospects for composites in automobile manufacturing. Lightweight design and construction will have a key position and this offers opportunities for high-performance fibres when used correctly in composites. The potential for lightweight design include:

  • carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduced by 8-11 g/km per 100 kg of reduced weight;
  • fuel saving per 100 kg of reduced weight is 0.3-0.5 l per 100 km;
  • improved vehicle dynamics – better acceleration, more agile handling, greater safety and shorter breaking distance.

Assuming lightweight steel is the base line, replacement by aluminium saves 40%, magnesium 50%, isotopic carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) 55% and unidirectional CFRP has the potential for 75% weight saving. To realise this enormous potential for CFRPs development in the following areas is required:

  • robust automated production processes with corresponding reduction in prices;
  • recycling processes with ecologically acceptable added value and weight-saving.

What can be achieved with a lightweight composite construction was illustrated by Marcus Weber of the Hochschule Niederrhein, who discussed the fastest serial electric sports car in the world.

The PG Elektrus has a total weight of only 860 kg. The batteries account for 30% of this weight and give this two-seater sports car with a 200 kW (272 PS) electric motor an acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h within 2.8 seconds. At 9000 rpm the maximum speed is more than 300 km/h.

The complete chassis and impact energy reducing crash box consist of polyester resin reinforced glass fibre and will soon be replaced by even lighter and stronger carbon fibre reinforcement.

For the full story, see the January 2013 edition of MobileTex. Not a subscriber? Subscribe HERE