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January 16, 2024
3 Min Read
Image courtesy of Voith Composites
At a Glance
- Monolithic CFRP-aluminum monocoque a novel approach for carbon neutrality
- Ultra-light carbon-fiber thermoplastic composite door 45% lighter than steel
- 700-bar, 350-liter hydrogen tank also turns to carbon fiber
The 2024 edition of the JEC Composites Innovation Awards has kicked off with the naming of three finalists per category. The awards ceremony will take place in Paris on Feb. 8, 2024. Here, we profile the successful entries in the Automotive & Road Transportation — Parts category.
Monolithic CFRP-aluminum monocoque
Company: Toyota Motor Corp. (Japan)
Partners: Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc. (Japan), Toyota Customizing & Development Co. Ltd. (Japan), TISM Inc. (Japan)
Image courtesy of Toyota
Description: A full-scale variable axial carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) aluminum semi-monocoque was designed, fabricated, and evaluated. The prototype delivered a 15% weight reduction with minimal fiber waste (4%) and low assembly cost. This technology aims to improve carbon neutrality through the effective use of CFRPs.
The technology creates 3D monolithic CFRP-aluminum structures by integrating anisotropic topology optimization, Turing pattern fiber path generation, tailored fiber placement, and nano uneven anodization bonding to optimize fiber function and material utilization. A semi-monocoque prototype demonstrates the potential for weight reduction in large 3D structures with complex topology using large fiber tow (50K) placed on 5 km of design paths with only 4% fiber waste.
Full-lifecycle carbon neutrality
Minimized fiber waste and assembly cost
Optimized material usage
Advanced manufacturing process
Ultra-light CF thermoplastic composite door
Company: Center for Composite Materials – University of Delaware
Partners: Clemson University (US), Envalior (Germany), Honda Development & Manufacturing of America LLC (US)
Image courtesy of Center for Composite Materials – University of Delaware
Description: The partners have engineered what’s described as the world’s first ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced-thermoplastic composite vehicle door that is 45% lighter than steel while meeting static and dynamic crash performance metrics. The door is 100% re-processable, signifying a major advance in sustainable automotive design.
The innovation uses re-processable polyamide-based carbon-fiber laminates, which enable easy integration with existing sheet metal forming equipment. The approach includes systems engineering, leveraging finite element analysis for structural optimization, and reducing part count by 52% versus baseline doors. The partners developed a novel manufacturing-to-response pathway, incorporating extensive material testing and simulations to predict and optimize thermoforming effects. This innovation resulted in a lightweight, durable, and cost-competitive door, thereby advancing sustainable automotive manufacturing.
Improved fuel efficiency
Reduction in vehicle emissions
Enhanced crash performance
First certified large 350-L type IV H2 700 bar tank
Company: Voith Composites SE & Co. KG (Germany)
Partners: Huntsman Advanced Materials GmbH (Switzerland), Toray Carbon Fibers Europe S.A. (France)
Image courtesy of Voith Composites
Description: The Carbon4Tank is the first UNECE R 134–approved 700-bar and 350-liter type IV hydrogen tank. For heavy transport and commercial vehicle use, the tank ensures maximum performance and minimum total cost of ownership (TCO).
The vessel is produced by an optimized TowPreg winding process. The resin is specially formulated to allow precise placement of high-strength carbon fibers. Optimized material, winding layers, and fully automated production guarantee compliance with safety and automotive quality standards. The Carbon4Tank is ready for serial production and ensures a high cost-performance ratio and decarbonization of transportation.
Technical maturity for H2-on-road operation
Certified according to UN/ECE R 134
High weight and cost efficiency
Precision and safety
Maximized hydrogen storage capacity
About the Author(s)
Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.
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