The battle between materials for the next-generation vehicles continues to heat up. A new study by the Aluminum Association claims a savings of up to $3,000 per electric vehicle can be achieved by reducing structure weight by 10 percent with aluminum.
“As automakers gear up for a new generation of plug-in electric vehicles, the high cost of battery power remains a barrier,” says Michael Bull, Director of Automotive Technology for Novelis. “What this new report shows is that by upgrading from traditional steel to an advanced aluminum body structure, the vehicle’s stored energy requirements can be cut by about 10 percent, which could save up to $3,000 per vehicle since less power and energy is required to move the lighter vehicle.” Bull is a representative of the Aluminum Association
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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