Recycled and plant-based composites are being used in underhood components of the British Lola-Drayson B12/69EV race car, which will compete in the 2013 FIA Formula E World Championship Series.
Jointly developed by Lola Group and Drayson Racing Technologies, the 850HP B12/69EV prototope was designed and built to demonstrate the potential of sustainable technologies in the harsh and demanding environment of sports cars. It incorporates advances such as inductive charging, composite battery power, moveable aerodynamics, and electrical regenerative damping.
The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV prototype race car, which will compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E World Championship Series, uses recycled and plant-based composites in underhood components. (Source: Lola Cars International Ltd.)
Umeco, structural composite maker for aerospace and automotive applications, co-developed the recycled composites and flax-reinforced composites with two different sets of partners. For the recycled materials, the company worked with ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd. and WMG at the University of Warwick. ELG reclaimed end-of-life carbon fibers from Umeco's MTM49 epoxy prepreg and re-impregnated them with Umeco's MTM49 toughened epoxy resin.
WMG, Lola, and Umeco performed several tests to assess how the material's mechanical and impact properties stack up against the properties of the original virgin prepregs. The tests showed that there had been a minimal loss of strength from virgin prepreg, while fiber stiffness was similar.
Umeco's partners in co-developing the flax-reinforced composites were WMG and Composites Evolution Ltd. WMG conducted extensive research and testing, while Composites Evolution supplied the woven flax material. Umeco impregnated the flax-reinforced material with its MTM28 and MTM49 epoxy resins, developed originally for components that require high damage tolerance. Flax fibers were selected because their mechanical properties are similar to those of glass fibers, but their weight and environmental impact are much lower. Flax fibers also have extremely good insulating and vibration damping characteristics.
Lola has since manufactured parts for the B12/69EV using the recycled MTM49 product, as well as the MTM28/Biotex Flax and MTM49/Biotex Flax.
Chuck, I'd bet you're right on that one, at least for the materials in the Lola car. Other plastics have been used successfully in underhood-apps for non-EVs, as I mentioned in my first comment in this article thread. I'd be interested to know just what the actual average heat differences are. Meanwhile, I do know that internal combustion engines are getting hotter: several different materials and fastener companies have mentioned this trend.
That makes sense, Ann. Composites would not equal stealth technology when it comes to keeping the military technology secret. I wonder, though, whether the military shares the same values as the commercial industries when it comes to energy or economic savings. Given the $200 wrench and cost-plus contracts, probably not.
Ann, I wonder if these materials are better-suited to EV underhood applications than to internal combustion cars. Obviously, the underhood heat is much less because of the efficiency of electric powertrains.
I understand your thought process about the proprietary nature of military technology, but I suspect it's somewhat different with certain materials classes, such as composites. For one thing, commercial aircraft production is surprisingly complex. For composites, there are fiber makers, prepreg makers, sometimes separate composite makers that mold these into components, and then another level or two of structural suppliers before you get to the actual Boeings. There's also a lot of commercial R&D going on, at least in Europe, and now more in the US. In any case, composites per se are not a secret sauce for military aircraft apps, they're more like a basic ingredient. You know, like those $200 wrenches.
Thanks, Ann. I would guess that any development a company like Boeing completes on behalf the military would also be available for the company's commercial development. But maybe not. Could be there are proprietary military developments that would have to be shielded from commercial development.
Rob, I don't know of a formal procedure as such, but some aircraft makers, such as Boeing, manufacture both military and commercial planes, and many aerospace components and composites suppliers address both military and commercial markets.
Chuck, there was no detail at all about which under-hood components are being built with these recycled or bio-based composites. Umeco, the materials supplier, made the announcement, so I suspect they were under an NDA. This does look like a trend, meaning, the use of plastics in under-hood applications. As I mention in a reply to Beth below, it's already happened elsewhere. That said, this looks like the first use of composites in under-hood apps, at least AFAIK.
Ann, do you know if the military has a formal procedure for sharing technology with the commercial aerospace industry? Are industry engineers involved with military suppliers the way the automotive engineers are involved with Indy cars?
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.