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Engineering Materials

EV Race Car Uses Green Composites Under the Hood

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Ann R. Thryft   5/16/2012 1:04:16 PM
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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 R. Thryft
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Ann R. Thryft   5/16/2012 1:04:54 PM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Rob Spiegel   5/16/2012 2:43:46 PM
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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.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Ann R. Thryft   5/16/2012 5:58:13 PM
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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.

Charles Murray
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Charles Murray   5/16/2012 6:45:00 PM
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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.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Jerry dycus   5/16/2012 7:04:45 PM
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  These are used in almost any underhood ICE app that doesn't come into direct contact with combustion.  Most every other part has been produced in composites.

  As for EV's since they don't have such high temps  much of the underhood is plastics including a good amount of the battery weight.

Sadly they still refuse to take the obvious next step, producing composite unibodies which would cut vehicle weight 40-50% instead of these tiny improvements. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Rob Spiegel   5/17/2012 11:18:50 AM
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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 R. Thryft
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Ann R. Thryft   5/17/2012 1:12:24 PM
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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.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Ann R. Thryft   5/17/2012 1:14:01 PM
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Jerry, composite unibodies for commercial automotive manufacturing are being studied, but one of the main barriers holding that back, as well as one of the main barriers against composites in car manufacturing in general, is the processing: it still requires many manual steps and is not yet adapted enough to high-volume, highly automated commercial car production. R&D to solve this is going on in Japan, Europe and the US.

Dr James Meredith
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Re: Any possibility of commercial applicability?
Dr James Meredith   5/17/2012 3:48:19 PM
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A little more information for you all in case you are interested.. we utilised recycled carbon prepreg to manufacture the damper hatch (the body work part just in front of the wind screen) and we used flax prepreg to manufacture the balance panels (an aero part just adjacent to the doors).

The only way we could use these materials on the car was by first proving that they are capable. Hence, I have been working on these materials at WMG for a while now to determine their static and dynamic properties. recycled carbon retains ~70 - 95 % of the properties of virgin material and flax is similar to glass. Some results have been published (see links) and others are due for publication over the summer - so watch this space.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0266353812000383

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026635381100385X

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