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The material selection platform
Plastics & Elastomers

Advanced Plastic Composite Solutions for Next Gen Lightweight Vehicles

Donald Rosato – Aug 27, 2018

TAGS:  Automotive      Metal Replacement      Thermoplastic Composites      New Energy Solutions    

Advanced Plastic Composite Solutions for Next Gen Lightweight VehiclesVehicles of the future will depend on overall weight reduction, energy challenges in emerging electric cars, and autonomous auto interior redesign that can be achieved by a combination of:

  1. Material substitution
  2. Optimization of component design/system layout, and
  3. Innovation in manufacturing processes

Consumer preferences have limited the downsizing options available to automakers. And also, the safety and performance standards have resulted in a very limited ability to reduce weight further with conventional materials.

Every vehicle component lightweighting potential is under investigation. Material substitution replacing heavier iron and steel with weight saving advanced composites and other plastics, aluminum, magnesium, and advanced high strength steel is essential for boosting the fuel economy.

Material substitution is dependent on:

  • Mechanical properties
  • Cost
  • Design, and
  • Manufacturing capabilities

In addition to reduced fuel consumption, weight reduction enables smaller power plant and energy storage systems, with corresponding cost and/or performance benefits as well as secondary weight reductions in load bearing structures.

The global market value for innovative lightweight materials used in the transportation industry grew to $130 billion by yearend 2017, up from an estimated $100 billion in 2012, for a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6%.

The pie chart below depicts the materials used in a vehicles:

Materials in a Vehicle

We at SpecialChem, recently did a survey to ask our community of material engineers about the specific challenges posed to materials.

Here are the results:

SpecialChem Survey on Material Challenges

We identified 3 main segments of challenges –


Meeting New Mobility Demands: Materials of Importance

To realize the needs of new mobility, following are some of the key materials that will play a critical role in Lightweighting, Batteries, and Sensors...

Carbon Fiber & Thermoplastic Composites

Carbon fiber offers the biggest weight advantage and new design opportunities.

Key players have announced expansions of CF Business / Production in 2017:

Carbon Fiber Offering New Design Opportunities
Use of CFRP in Lightweighting
Source: Arkema

However, high costs (precursor + energy intensive production) and poor recyclability are some of the drawbacks.

Good news is that there are significant advances in research on Lignin-based precursors (cheaper and greener) for carbon fibers production (EU H2020 - LIBRE, WSU…)

Solvay says future innovations will include Thermoplastic prepregs, Rapid cure...; Full Automation & Full recycling.

Thermoset Prepegs
Source: Solvay

And Airbus confirms the need for newer composites and the move towards increased recycling. In addition, additive manufacturing will play a key role here.

And talking about new composites, UBE Exsymo has developed an innovative thermoplastic composite that is:
  • Thermoformable
  • Impact resistant
  • Lighter than carbon fiber
  • Stronger than most plastics

It also enables short production cycle at lower temperature for cost reduction while being 100% recyclable.

Smart Sensors of Tomorrow - Piezoelectric Polymers

Among polymers, poly vinylidene fluoride (PVDF) & its copolymers exhibit high level of piezolectricity. PVC and nylon are other polymer examples but not in the same league as PVDF. Also ceramics are used to develop piezoelectric films for sensors.

Piezoelectric Sensors
Source: Solvay

With increased connectivity, sensors will be indispensable in future cars and other applications. This will drive the innovation for such materials.

Also Read: Recent Advances in Piezoelectric Films and Sensors

Battery Materials - Lithium, Graphite and More

Li-Ion Battery According to stats: by 2030

 − Demand for Li Ion battery would be above 700 GWh
 − Price would be ~$73/KWh
 − Cumulative copper demand from electric vehicles - can grow 15x

Estimated Reserves for Lithium: 17 MT to 25 MT; with Bolivia + Chile + Argentina with more than 15 MT, but the good news is that energy / kg is increasing, which means more kilometers per kilo of Lithium.

Conducting additives (graphite, carbon black) are also needed for lifespan and fast charging of EV Li-Ion batteries. Graphite demand for these batteries is expected to grow at 21%/ year.

With the drive towards full electrification, many other minerals and materials would see growth in demand in the coming years!

Lastly, I would like to leave you with this video that showcases new concept of Urban Mobility (combining Land & Air travel). The possibilities are truly endless!

Plastics Professionals - Meet Tomorrow’s Automotive Industry Needs

Get ready for the future by identifying innovative multi-purpose plastics & composite solutions enabling weight reduction. Join the course: Lightweighting Vehicles of the Future: Plastics & Composites Solutions on September 6, 2018.

Lightweighting Vehicles of the Future

2 Comments on "Advanced Plastic Composite Solutions for Next Gen Lightweight Vehicles"
James D Oct 30, 2018
For latest market trends and the overall market outlook within the Engineered Plastics and Automotive Lightweight Materials Market you can request sample pages for the Market Research Reports for Carbon Nanotubes, Graphite & Graphene on below URLs or simply write back to me on james@globalresearchview.com https://www.kicreport.com/2013-2028-Report-on-Global-PA66-Engineering-Plastics-Market-by-Player-Region-Type-Application-and-Sales-Channel.html https://www.kicreport.com/Global-Steel-Plastic-Composite-Geogrid-Industry-Market-Research-Report.html https://www.kicreport.com/Global-Glass-Fibre-Reinforced-Plastic-Industry-Market-Research-Report.html Regards, James
GOURDON B Sep 1, 2018
It's a very interesting survey about vehicules ( automotive industry particulary) Thanks for this analysis and the future development forseen in this domaine. Bernard GOURDON

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