Novel lightweight materials to reduce weight of chassis components of Electric Vehicles by 40%
The Fatigue4Light EU-funded project has proposed novel material solutions based on high-strength steels, composites and hybrid materials with the objective to reduce the weight of electric car chassis components by 40%, obtaining a zero-emission vehicle chassis while ensuring good fatigue performance.
Fatigue4Light’s experts have obtained the best results in steels of high mechanical resistance, which, according to the research carried out, offer excellent mechanical behaviour with the least impact on carbon footprint. Despite these positive results, project’s researchers, warn that the production of multimaterial solutions itself has a significant environmental impact.
Over three years, researchers from four European countries, led by CIMNE, have developed new methods of rapid experimental analysis and computational fatigue simulation to estimate the life of chassis components subject to wear and selected optimal materials for weight optimisation.
Started in 2021, the project was divided into four work phases. In the initial stages, experts identified new materials based on the exploration of steel, aluminium alloys, and combinations of composite materials. During the later phases, they worked on creating new virtual and experimental tools to optimize weight, validated with six laboratory and industrial-scale demonstrators.
Dr. Lucía Barbu, member of the Composite and Advanced Materials for Multifunctional Structures group, head of the Fatigue unit at CIMNE, and project coordinator, emphasized that the research considered “eco-design and circular economy criteria” to further reduce the environmental footprint of new electric vehicles.
According to Dr. Barbu, the improvement of fatigue simulation computational models will reduce the implementation time of new materials in chassis design for new vehicles, a “critical component” that currently accounts for “half of the weight” of electric cars, along with the vehicle frame.
In the words of the scientific director at the Technology Centre Eurecat, Daniel Casellas, the results from this project will “allow for a 10% reduction in the development of new chassis components for electric cars”. The results will also bring “new solutions” to reduce the chassis weight “up to 40%, using sustainable materials, such as high-strength steels”.
These solutions can be applied in other industrial sectors “that use components subjected to cyclic loads, such as the railway sector or renewable energies”.
The Fatigue4Light project involved three universities and research centres, six companies from the sector, and a regulatory body: Stellantis CRF, Luleå University of Technology, CLN Group, Profilglass, RISE – Research Institutes of Sweden, Politecnico di Torino, CIEFMA – Center for Research in Structural Integrity, Reliability and Micromechanics of Materials at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Gestamp, UNE – Asociación Española de Normalización, ArcelorMittal, Eurecat – Technology Centre of Catalonia, and CIMNE.