Looks like DuPoint's matrix strategy for materials development will enable it to leverage a lot of intellectual property and design innovative across various core platforms as opposed to reinventing the wheel for every separate endeavor. Great example of big picture, systems engineering thinking as opposed to a one-off strategy around lightweighting.
One big trend in automobiles in the last few years has been enhanced safety. With stronger structures, and specific safety equipment such as air bags, we have become safer in the event of an accident. The downside is the weight added by all this safety equipment.
While in the 1970s I had a 1960s car that weighed only 1,400 pounds, there is nothing at that weight available now. With a heavy and very unsophiscated engine the car could get 40 MPG on the highway. Of course, it was not very safe.
So, while looking at ways to cut weight, it woulld be interesting to see if there are ways to use these new material features to enhance safety as well. I saw an artivle recently that made the comment that were going toward lighter cars, but that would probably compromise safety. Perhaps this new approach to designing materials will allow companies like DuPont to address both.
Lou, that balance between adding safety features and saving weight is top of mind for automotive engineers and the car companies in general, and for materials makers like DuPont, as well as sub-system makers like engine component companies, in particular. Chuck's slideshow yesterday shows a host of these: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=250882 Balancing all these tradeoffs requires the type of system-level thinking DuPont is using to develop new materials with its matrix structure, as Beth points out.
TJ, if you look at the pie chart, you'll see that there's an Other category that comprises 4% of responses, as well as an Aerodynamics category at 1%, one (or both) of which may have included tire improvements. Whatever improvements they add apparently weren't statistically large enough, in the context of the others, to justify a separate category, at least in the minds of these respondents. That said, as you rightly point out there are many improvements shown in Chuck's slideshow yesterday that can be done, and that fall outside the big three categories in this study.
TJ, that's a good point. I wonder if it's because tire technology such as shown in Chuck's slideshow is bleeding-edge? Just guessing that it is. If so, it may be unknown to the survey respondents, who are, presumably, working inside automakers.
I think the major OEM tire supplier companies are hard at work developing tires with lower rolling resistance. The auto manufacturers may then make the best tire choice for equipping their cars.
When I recently purchased new tires for my weekend performance car, I was mainly concerned with the best dry weather traction, chose a Summer-only ZR-rated tire that provides tremendous grip. I was not concerned with wear, and the tire does have a higher rolling resistance than other all-round tires.
When I need new tires for my daily-driver economy car, low rolling resistance, overall performance and high wear will be the prime considerations. Perhaps I will just get the same tires as the car came with new from the factory.
TJ and Ann, it is interesting that aerodynamics is not more prominently selected. The big problem we have is the rise of the SUV. Some of you may remember the oil shocks of the 1970s. After that, a prominent feature of automobile advertising was the coefficient of drag. With the rise of the SUV, starting with the Ford Explorer, that went by the wayside. We now have crossovers. These are SUVs on a car chasis. They still have basically the same aerodynamics, which is bad. Better aerodynamics, along with weight savings, would go a long way toward meeting the standards. And those do not required major scientific breakthroughs as with batteries.
I must agree about aerodynamics not getting a bigger share of interest. In 1984 I and a partner rode a streamlined motorcycle from San Diego to Daytona Speedway during the motorcycle GP with a sealed 12 gallon tank and filled up with 11.38 gallons at the 76 station in the pits at Daytona speedway. We averaged 215 mpg for the trip. No batteries, nothing really radical with the motor, just good aerodynamics and careful driving at 55-60 mph the entire trip.
I wish that more work would be done on just getting the shapes better for more efficient running at highway speeds. The EV1 electric car would have great mileage without the battery weight and just a good efficient IC motor, the drag numbers on that car were very good and most of the hybrids would do very well with the drivetrain replaced with today's efficient IC motors.
Glad to see some interest scared up by the mandate, altho I do not enjoy mandated performance.
I, too, was intrigued by the Combustion Engine Breakthrough category. The main example DuPont gave is Ford's EcoBoost engine, which we've covered before, and it's not at all fairy-dust: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1387&doc_id=234102 http://media.ford.com/images/10031/EcoBoost.pdf Then there are several slides in Chuck's slideshow yesterday that address engine improvements, such as slide 3 on Toyota's D-S4 engine, slide 6 on Chevy's Ecotec, slide 15 on Fiat's Multi-Air inline engine, slide 16 on engine active fuel management, and slides 8 and 11 on the GDI technique, which sounds to me like a real breakthrough at up to 30% consumption reduction potential.
Ann, I agree the EcoBoost engine is a breakthrough that would help move the indsutry to meet CAFE standards. I was a little surprised to see the battery research taking such a large portion of the pie chart. No matter how efficient the EV and hybrids get, they won't help car makers reach CAFE standards if sales remain such a small portion of overall vehicles sold.
Rob, the size of the battery pie slice didn't surprise me, based on the intense coverage Chuck has given to the topic, and the articles I've written on EV and hybrid battery materials. They're still too heavy and not efficient enough, although these days at least they don't make the EV weigh two tons.
The way it looks right now, EVs may not help much to reach CAFE standards. Yet, while battery development can't match the rapid developments we're accustomed to in electronics, a couple of good breakthroughs could change the landscape dramatically. It's good car makers are still working at it.
Rob, in case of EVs the main two major areas which are lagging is Battery power and engine power: which are related to each other. So any further improvement has to happen in these two areas, otherwise it cannot improve efficiency. Putting up more charging stations is not an issue, but better yield from battery is an important factor.
I agree, Mydesign. Until there is a significant breakgrough, the EVs will probably not contribute greatly to meeting CAFE standards. As it stands now, the EVs will proably not have sufficient sales to help car makers meet CAFE.
I agree, Chuck. weak sales of EVs make EVs a weak contributor to CAFE standards. Of course that could change quickly if battery technology breakthroughs bring down the cost of EVs and hybrids. What do you think the chances of that are?
I think the focus on combustion engines and hope for breakthroughs has to do with the fact that the entire design and manufacturing infrastructure, systems and practices of a non-alternative energy car is optimized for the combustion engine. Changing all that to a completely different focus is very difficult and painful, perhaps at least as much as changing all that to deal with plastics and composites instead of, or even in addition to, metals.
The graph represented what the 700 subscribers to WardsAuto "thought" as they were polled... not much more meaning than an "exit poll" at an election. It did not indicate where the automotive decision makers were actually spending their research dollars. It did not indicate relative value of improvement vs money spent in any scientific way.. it was the "gut" feeling by subscribers to a "automovtive information center" on the subject.
So .. at best we have some indication from a few in interested in the industry where they believe improvements are to be made.
Sorry Ann, I want a bit more "meat" to the subject before making any meaningful observations.
Thinking_J, the pie chart represents categories summing up this section of the results of the survey, which included many questions posed to respondents. There are also other illustrations depicting somewhat different data from the survey, which you can access using the link we provided.
Some time ago I helped restore some automobiles fron the 1920s. I was surprised at the range of materials the manufacturers used to provide light strong structures. These included not just steel, but hard and soft woods, aluminum, fabrics, and such plastics as existed then. During the decades that followed, the US manufacturers slid a long way backwards in the materials department. It's good to see that they are again gaining ground.
Want to share some info Ann didn't have room to include. Respondents were asked to report on the types of programs they are working on – not what they believe. As most folks probably know, the industry is currently working on programs designed to meet milestones along the way to 2025 regulations.
Also, the makeup of the survey represents several points of view: half report they are in the system/component segment of the value chain; 31% are in the OEM role; and 17% say they work in engine/engine services. Half are in the engineering role, with the rest spread between quality; corporate management; production engineering; and research & development.
I asked Carole, the DuPont spokeswoman quoted in the article, if we could give more details. Carole, thanks for sharing these with our audience and addressing their questions about DuPont's survey design and the survey respondents.
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