Center for Composite Materials - University of Delaware

UD-CCM collaborates with Industry and University Partners on
DOE Vehicle Technologies Programs

Researchers at University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) have formed Industry and University Partnerships in two programs recently funded to design, manufacture, and demonstrate an ultra-light hybrid composite door through a Department of Energy program aimed at advancing fuel-efficient vehicle technologies.

UD-CCM is part of the Clemson University led team where researchers will use carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites to fabricate a driver’s side front-door assembly for a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The goal is to reduce the door’s weight by 42.5 percent as automakers work to meet U.S. corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Fleets of vehicles are supposed to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

John W. Gillespie, Jr. director of UD-CCM, and assistant director Shridhar Yarlagadda issued a joint statement: “Clemson and CCM are establishing a strong partnership to merge auto systems design with composites materials, design and manufacturing to lightweight composites door for high-volume production.”

UD-CCM is also part of the TPI Composites, Inc. led team where TPI’s expertise in system design and as a Tier 1 supplier will be complemented by UD-CCM’s modeling and simulation capabilities for HP-RTM, (High-Pressure Resin Transfer Molding) of carbon-fiber thermoset composites, material response and side-impact crash modeling of composites.

According to CCM assistant director Dirk Heider, the new carbon-fiber-reinforced doors have to match the current steel models with regard to all fit, function, and safety requirements. In addition, the new doors have to be producible at the required rate of 80,000-90,000 units per year.

“We will evaluate new material solutions and conduct a small number of sub-element tests to validate the approach and optimize our design,” Heider says. “Final full-scale door testing will demonstrate that our design approach leads to a composite door meeting all performance targets, and full vehicle tests will demonstrate the form, fit and function of the proposed door.”

“Investing in advanced vehicle technologies will improve the efficiency of today’s vehicles while also supporting the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in announcing the awards. “The deployment of these technologies will give Americans more options when they are choosing a vehicle, while also creating jobs and cutting harmful carbon emissions.”

FY 2019 DOE-EERE Materials Vehicle Technologies Office Consolidated Reports

Functionally Designed Ultra-Lightweight Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic (Clemson University)

Ultralight Hybrid Composite Door Design and Rapid Manufacture (TPI Composites Inc.)

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