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DOE to back development of thermoplastic composites

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement that will provide financial support for the development of predictive engineering tools for injection molded long carbon fiber thermoplastic composites. The funding will also support development of integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) development of advanced steel for lightweight vehicles and advanced alloy development for automotive and heavy-duty engines.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement that will provide financial support for the development of predictive engineering tools for injection molded long carbon fiber thermoplastic composites.

The funding will also support development of integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) development of advanced steel for lightweight vehicles and advanced alloy development for automotive and heavy-duty engines.

The objective of the plastics-specific "Area of Interest 1" is to "accelerate the realization of materials for lighter weight vehicles made from advancing and validating the use of predictive tools (models) for long fiber injection molded carbon fiber thermoplastic polymer resin composites."

This Area of Interest is focused exclusively on predictive engineering of fiber length and orientation for injection molded long fiber thermoplastic composites, where the length of the fiber before molding is the same length as the thermoplastic pellet (approximately half of an inch) prior to being introduced into the injection molding machine. Successful applications will focus on integrating and validating predictive tools for long fiber thermoplastic carbon fiber composites. Long glass fibers may be included as model systems if the measurement of fiber length and orientation is more direct compared to that for carbon fiber; however, long carbon fibers must also be characterized and validated in the project.

Among the requirements for funding are use of a polypropylene or polyamide resin matrix, and application to complex 3D geometries. Minimum output variables are fiber length and orientation, and a model accuracy of better than 15% for both fiber length and orientation must be achieved. Models must also be compatible with commercially available operating systems.

Furthermore, the DOE has outlined weight reduction requirements for the project. These include 35% weight saving or better for body in white, fenders and bumpers, 25% or better for underbody structural components, and 5% or better for dashboards and shifters. The cost of lightweighting should also be minimized according to DOE guidelines: $3.18 or less per lb. saved for body in white, fenders and bumpers; $3.11 or less per lb. saved for underbody structural components; and $3.24 or less per lb. saved for dashboards and shifters. The official documentation can be downloaded at this link -[email protected]

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