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  • Periodic Report Summary 2 - EVOLUTION (The Electric Vehicle revOLUTION enabled by advanced materials highly hybridized into lightweight components for easy integration and dismantling providing a reduced life cycle cost logic)

EVOLUTION Report Summary

Project ID: 314744
Funded under: FP7-NMP
Country: Denmark

Periodic Report Summary 2 - EVOLUTION (The Electric Vehicle revOLUTION enabled by advanced materials highly hybridized into lightweight components for easy integration and dismantling providing a reduced life cycle cost logic)

Project Context and Objectives:
EVOLUTION - The Electric Vehicle revolution enabled by advanced materials highly hybridized into lightweight components for easy integration and dismantling providing a reduced life cycle cost logic.
The EVOLUTION project targets urban Full Electric Vehicles (FEV); their peculiarities in several areas makes it necessary to study new solutions specifically designed for them; the challenging project goal is to demonstrate the sustainable production of 600 kg weight FEV by the end of 2016.
Innovative design approaches for FEV should be identified to reduce product weight and costs while keeping the same performances of ICE vehicles as far as safety, comfort and maintenance, passing through a combination of novel product design and super lightweight components.
EVOLUTION addresses the whole vehicle by prototyping, assembling, and disassembling the most representative five components, named Demonstrators:
1. Under body
2. Structural node
3. Crash cross beam and crash box
4. Suspension mechanical sub-frame
5. Side-door
EVOLUTION is using the Pininfarina Nido concept car as a reference for its activities. The existing concept of the Body in White (BiW) has been completely reviewed through a design strategy aiming to reduce the number of parts and using innovative lightweight materials technologies.

The selected body archetype with a central cell is a consolidated standard considering the assembly process scheme, in order to easily shift from low to high production volumes. Basically, the cell has a structural function, while the front end is dimensioned to absorb energy during a front crash and the rear end is conceived to be modular, allowing the transformation into van and pick-up versions.
The considered Al technologies applied on Al 5xxx-6xxx and 7xxx alloys provide the opportunities to obtain parts with complicated geometries and low thickness, merging different parts into one unique element. Besides, it is possible to process one element with a single operation and variable thicknesses.
A “green sand mould” technique allows to obtain co-casted joints between different elements produced with different manufacturing processes.

The potential cost reduction and process simplification in terms of time and assembly are promising: current state-of-the-art, based on traditional moulds, does not allow these opportunities.
The BiW has been hybridised in certain areas of the underbody with a composite material of the PA family, reinforced with GF. This material has been obtained improving existing materials and developing a production process suitable for scaling to commercial requirements, throughout an advanced sheet thermoforming and 3D-injection method (CaproCAST process).

Novel polypropylene nanocomposites (PNC) based on layers silicates and glass fibres demonstrate improved toughness and stiffness and have been selected for crash cross beam and side door demonstrators. Polyurethane foams based on recycled polymers are explored for use as sustainable energy-absorbing fill in cross beam sections.
Structural epoxy adhesives have been considered to join the BiW parts and welding points have reduced in number: in certain areas spotwelds have been used only to tack the parts during polymerisation.
In addition to the previous results, the current weight of the BiW is 115 kg versus 160 kg of the baseline car. An FE-analysis on the virtual full vehicle puts in evidence a good structural behaviour, considering EU crash standards of homologation and global static and dynamic performances.
The innovative architecture and the integration of lightweight materials will ensure that the EU maintains its competitiveness against the Asian and United States automobile industries.

Project Results:
During the first 36 months of activities, Phase 1 and Phase 2 have been finished, while Phase 3 has been started 6 months ago.
At month 36 EVOLUTION is about 75% through the contract. As such almost all planned objectives from each work package, except WP7 have been initiated.
The concept definition was frozen at month 30, formally opening the gate to the manufacturing stage of the Demonstrators. This milestone assessed the structural performances of the whole BiW, confirming the selected materials, and the feasibility of Demonstrators.

The final solution of the five Demonstrators is:
1. Under body: all elements: one step forming aluminium technologies with Al-5xxx alloys; rear reinforcement: polyamide composites (PA) based on glass fibre fabrics
2. Structural node: “green sand mould” technique allowing co-casted joints among elements produced with different Aluminium manufacturing processes.
3. Crash cross beam and crash box: organosheet based on PP overmoulded with a nanoreinforced PP (PNC); polyurethane foams (PUR foams) to reinforce selected areas
4. Suspension mechanical sub-frame: Polyamide composites (PA) based on carbon fibre fabrics
5. Side-door: Aluminium frame; door skins: polypropylene nanocomposites (PNC) based on layers silicate and glass fibres
The first release of the EVolution BIW has been characterized by a very limited carry-over with respect to Nido. This conclusion was expected because the baseline objectives of the two concepts are consistently different.
The EVolution BiW and Full Vehicle has been modelled with Finite Elements (FE) methods and evaluated by Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), simulating the main global behaviour in terms of stiffness and crashworthiness.
Weak areas have been singled out, and after a deep problem solving activity, a set of solutions to improve the structure behaviour has been put in place with a minor weight increase.
All the typical sections of the BiW, giving the priority to the interfaces BiW-Demonstrators, have been analysed as part of WP4, in order to evaluate the feasibility of welding, riveting and adhesive joining.
Materials upscaling has been successfully completed.

Potential Impact:
In the context of vehicle electrification, it is expected that EVOLUTION will provide the EU with an opportunity to compete in a global context, thanks to the development of know-how of engineering new lightweight architecture for urban FEVs.
From the perspective of the European Automotive industry and its supply chain partners, the development of the proposed hybrid materials and their integration in FEV architectures, is the aspect that more than any others could continue to ensure EU competitiveness against US and Asian automobile manufacturers.
One of the EVolution expectations is to introduce innovations in several critical areas (lightweight, crashworthiness, flexibility), thus contributing to the development of a European standard reference technology platform for electric vehicle materials, containing architectures, models, methods and tools for part development, verification, validation and testing.
All OEMs worldwide will play a role in the global electrification of road transport, the success of which will be dependent on mastering the key enabling technologies. One of the EVolution expectations is to develop key enabling technologies in the field of super-lightweight materials for FEVs and FEV Body in White design. The use of lightweight materials is expected to have an impact not only on FEVs, but also on the production of lighter ICE vehicles, allowing reduced fuel consumption; it has been estimated that a 10% reduction in ICE vehicle weight reduce fuel consumption by 6-8% (“Impact of Nanotechnology in World Automotive Markets”, Frost&Sullivan, Oct. 2005). This will result in fuel cost savings for the owner and a reduction in CO2 emissions.
Besides, by their very nature, lightweight materials for FEV automotive applications are attractive to other forms of transport application in which vehicle weight plays a dominant role in determining vehicle performance (aerospace, rail and maritime sectors).
More specifically related to lightweight materials and technologies the expectations, both scientific and industrial, could be summarized as follows.
Composites materials:
• to develop materials of low cost recycled thermoplastics
• the production of polyamide composites with textiles as reinforcement aiming at reducing processing costs
• to ensure the materials for up scaling for the production of industrial components that are 50% lighter than known technology
1. Solid Aluminium: implementation of an innovative solution, a co-casted joint between different elements produced with different manufacturing processes. Green sand mould casting process is cheaper development process, with lower cost in tools (cores are easier and cheaper to manufacture compared to the standard process used for these components) and high flexibility in geometry references, allowing complex shaping and hollow geometries
2. Stamped Aluminium: implementation of advanced forming technologies enabling the weight reduction potential through complex geometry, integration of different components into one single part and reduced thickness
Joining methods:
• to develop special reversible adhesive formulations (electromagnetically activated nanofillers embedded into hot-melt and structural matrices);
• to identify and define optimal process parameters and optimal equipment setting for the activation of the new adhesives;
• to simulate and optimize joining processes (for similar and dissimilar materials);
• to establish constitutive models and failure criteria for the adhesives (also definition of base material grades, passive and active fillers);
• to investigate strength and stiffness of all joints
• to validate electromagnetic assembling/disassembling technology

List of Websites:


Lone Varn Johannsen, (Special Consultant)
Tel.: +4599407275
Record Number: 187825 / Last updated on: 2016-08-24