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Engineering Materials
Survey: Battery, Engine, Materials Are Top CAFE Techs
9/19/2012

A DuPont-sponsored survey has found that automakers are focused almost equally on improving battery performance, breakthroughs in combustion engine performance, and lighter materials.   (Source: DuPont)
A DuPont-sponsored survey has found that automakers are focused almost equally on improving battery performance, breakthroughs in combustion engine performance, and lighter materials.
(Source: DuPont)

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Ann R. Thryft
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How real are combustion engine breakthroughs?
Ann R. Thryft   9/19/2012 12:44:50 PM
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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 R. Thryft
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Re: Tires didn't make the list
Ann R. Thryft   9/19/2012 12:43:14 PM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: getting the weight down
Ann R. Thryft   9/19/2012 12:42:39 PM
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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 McDermott
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Tires didn't make the list
TJ McDermott   9/19/2012 10:14:11 AM
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I'm surprised they didn't.  Proper pressure and decreased rolling resistance have a measurable impact.  Yesterday's slideshow noted it.

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=250882&itc=dn_analysis_element&

And is one of the easiest things to do.  Any number of improvements (pressure sensors become standard, on-board compressors to maintain pressure) would immediately improve mileage.

Combustion Engine Breakthrough too much sounds like we're waiting for a genie to grant a wish.

naperlou
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getting the weight down
naperlou   9/19/2012 8:20:53 AM
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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.

Beth Stackpole
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Big-picture engineering
Beth Stackpole   9/19/2012 7:17:00 AM
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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.

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