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Power train advances critical in achieving CAFE goals

May 3, 2016

3 Min Read
Power train advances critical in achieving CAFE goals

The recent Chinaplas show in Shanghai highlighted numerous current and emerging auto industry trends requiring high-performance engineering plastic solutions. The importance of improving power train efficiency stood out in particular.

Power train improvements will contribute to 70% of the fuel economy gains stipulated by CAFE regulations that will be introduced in 2025, according to Philip J. Jeszke, Global Auto Segment Leader, Plastics, at Ascend Performance Materials. “The regulations require fuel economy of 54.5 mpg versus the current 34.5 mpg, and we’re only two development cycles away from this milestone,” he warns, highlighting the urgency of the task at hand.

Ascend’s Jeszke: Hydrolysis-resistant PA grades also have a role to play in radiator end tanks and other under-the-hood applications. Our Vydyne HR grades target such applications.

Emissions canister.JPG

Activated carbon emissions canisters trap fuel vapor that evaporates from the tank when a vehicle’s engine is turned off, and transfer the vapor to the engine when it is restarted.

Increased use of turbos, integrated charge air cooler-air intake manifold systems, exhaust gas recovery (EGR), and transmissions with even more gears are among key technology initiatives that will help automakers achieve this fuel economy target. Lightweighting, meanwhile, will only contribute 15-20% of such savings. “Lightweighting only helps when there’s inertial movement,” explains Jeszke.

“PA 66 is a natural fit for such powertrain components where you require toughness, strength, heat resistance and hydrocarbon resistance,” notes Jeszke. “These properties are also typically demanded, for example, in cable ties that also require wear resistance and are subjected to temperatures of 125-150°C.” 50 such ties are typically found in an automobile, contributing to the average 15 lb. of PA 66 found in molded components in a car.

Another area where PA 66 is playing an increasingly important role is cylinder head covers. “In the past you’d just see a plain cover but recently, we are seeing more functionality integration such as pumps, lubricant recirculation and acoustics,” says Jeszke.

This integration is also having an effect on the supply chain, Jeszke observes. “Whereas in the past you’d have seven parts, now you might have just two so in effect you are improving quality, lightweighting, lowering the overall system cost, and simplifying the supply chain.”

“Carbon canisters” employed for onboard vapor recovery are yet another growth area for PA 66. Polypropylene (PP) is currently the material of choice in China but faces issues associated with high permeation. “We can significantly reduce permeation through adopting PA 66 without the need for a barrier layer” says Jeszke. The US has already made the switch to PA 66 and China will introduce regulations requiring lower permeation levels in the near future.”

In the electric and hybrid vehicle segment, meanwhile, electrically neutral grades of PA 66 employing organic stabilizer systems developed by Ascend are set to make inroads into connectors applications in electric vehicles. “Normally, a copper halide is employed as a heat stabilizer in PA 66 but our organically-stabilized Vydyne HT material minimizes the potential for electrical interference,” says Philip J. Jeszke, Global Auto Segment Leader, Plastics, at Ascend

Airbag fiber is a growth area in China for PA 66 according to Ascend. “Currently, the average made-in-China vehicle has two airbags compared with eight to 10 in a US vehicle,” says Jeszke. “With new regulations on the way in China we will see increased demand.” More airbags also means more opportunities for other engineering plastics in related components.

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