TWI is involved in two Innovate UK-funded collaborative research and development projects for the automotive industry. The projects are looking to develop technologies to help with the integration of composites into vehicle body structures in order to reduce emissions and fuel consumption while also reducing weight and increasing performance.
TWI working to progress composites in the automotive industry
The first project, LightJoin, sees TWI working with partners including Jaguar Land Rover, Granta Design Ltd, the Scott Bader Company Ltd, Far-UK Ltd, Stadco Ltd, Nissan Motor Manufacturing, Autotech Engineering R&D UK and the University of Warwick. The aim of this project is to use composite materials to lower the weight of parts for the automotive industry. However, to manage this successfully, there is a need to develop solutions to enable cost-effective integration of the high performance composite components into volume car production.
LightJoin seeks to assist the replacement of specific metal vehicle components with composites by investigating rapid joining solutions. The aim is to produce a small scale demonstrator component (MRL5) while assessing the potential to scale up to MRL9A. With the general objective of allowing a lower-risk introduction of lightweight composite components for the mass market, the LightJoin project hopes to provide a 30% weight reduction for Jaguar Land Rover’s all-aluminium construction and a 60% weight reduction for Nissan’s all-steel construction.
The second of the current automotive composites projects TWI is involved in is the Hybrid Automotive Lightweight Optimisation (HALO) project. Once again working with Far-UK Ltd, as well as Jaguar Land Rover, HPL Prototypes Ltd and the University of Leicester, the goal of this project is to use multiple materials to reduce weight and thereby lower CO2 emissions and reduce fuel consumption. While fuel-efficient engines already help reduce carbon emissions, this is not enough to meet impending legislative requirements. However, competitively priced solutions for weight reduction could help meet this need without drastically increasing the cost of vehicles for consumers. The HALO project is working to find new ways to produce structures using a variety of materials. This requires the development of modelling techniques to allow the efficient production of these weight and cost optimised structures.
Both of these TWI-supported automotive projects are due to run through into 2019.
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TWI is a world leading research and technology organisation with a focus on materials, engineering and manufacturing.