The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is soliciting applications for $50 million in research funding for new research projects that will develop advanced technologies to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy. Among then 11 areas of interest (AOIs), only one relates to plastics: Breakthrough Techniques for Dissimilar Material Joining.
This area of interest is co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Army. The objective of this AOI is to establish new techniques for producing dissimilar material joints in vehicle structures. Joining dissimilar materials is a critical technical barrier to weight reduction of both civilian and military vehicles, however breakthrough ideas for methods to produce these joints are lacking. This AOI seeks to support early-stage development and demonstration of completely new techniques. Applicants need to propose a joining method that is significantly different from the conventional implementations of techniques such as ultrasonic welding, laser welding, and plasma welding in order to secure funding.
The mechanical and corrosion performance of the joints produced using the new technique will be characterized. Further, joint characteristics and failure modes will be characterized and reported.
Applications within this AOI will apply novel dissimilar material joining techniques to produce joined coupons of any two of the following materials:
- Aluminum (5000 or 6000 series automotive alloy)
- Steel (mild, HSLA, AHSS, or boron automotive alloy)
- Magnesium (AZ or AM series commercial alloy)
- Carbon Fiber Polymer Composite
There is a definite metals focus in other AOIs in the solicitation. Cast magnesium alloys, joining of aluminum to steel, and development of high-performance cast alloys and processing techniques for engine rotating components are all up to receive funding. Battery research is also a key target area.