Plastic oil sumps offer further lightweighting options

Engineering plastics suppliers have uncovered another application where their offerings can substitute heavier incumbent metal technology as evidenced by two recent developments that assist auto and truck makers in improving fuel economy and reducing emissions.

Peugeot polyamide oil sump fronts up to onroad challenges.
Mercedes-Benz polyamide truck oil pans also
dampen engine noise.

Polyamide (PA) resin has been employed in the oil sump of a commercially-available passenger vehicle  that is 60% lighter than the metal version it replaces. The Peugeot 508 employs a PA 6 grade from DSM Engineering Plastics (Singapore) that is part of the resin supplier's Akulon Ultraflow range.

The Peugeot 508 is the first vehicle to benefit from the new DSM solution, and more models will reportedly follow. Not only is the sump lighter: it also costs less to make and helps to lower fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions during the lifetime of the vehicle.

Oil sumps are ideal opportunities for engineering plastics among automotive applications according to DSM because they offer potential for significant weight reduction compared with traditional metal versions. But oil sumps also offer a considerable challenge for developers: their exposed position under the engine means that they have to withstand considerable mechanical stress caused by, for example, stones flying up from the road, and impacts from curb stones if the vehicle is driven off the road onto the pavement.

The French Tier One supplier Steep Plastique (Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost) was behind successful development of the lightweight sump. The use of highly sophisticated computer simulation software that was developed by Steep specifically for the application also enabled the sump to pass some very demanding application tests, including a severe curb impact test, a stone impact test, and an engine drop test. DSM's Akulon Ultraflow PA 6 also has the necessary oil resistance for the application.

The grade used for the application is Akulon Ultraflow K-FHG7, a 35% glass-reinforced, heat-stabilized PA 6 with very good flow properties. It offers significant processing advantages compared to standard PA 6 products, while maintaining the required mechanical properties. "This is an important step forward," says Ralph Ramaekers, Global Segment Manager, Powertrain, at DSM. "Bringing this project to a successful conclusion required a joint team effort by DSM and Steep, and a deep understanding of the application requirements. DSM continues to target metal replacement in the engine compartment and in the car body."

Eric Delachambre, Managing Director at Steep Plastique, says: "This important breakthrough demonstrates that DSM is developing the right materials to address the challenges the industry faces. Now, thanks to the significant improvements we have made in crash simulation, we will be able to make further progress in applications such as these, leading to vehicles with improved performance and reduced environmental impact."


Truck sump resists rocks; reduces noise
For their part, DuPont Performance Polymers (Wilmington, DE) and ElringKlinger AG (Dettingen/Erms, Germany) say that they have made a significant contribution to the heavy-truck industry's drive for fuel efficiency and emissions reduction by developing a lightweight, injection molded truck oil pan of DuPont Zytel PA resin. Developed for an international truck manufacturer, the oil pan is up

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