Environmental wellbeing backed by increasingly severe legislation dictates that pollution and energy consumption by automobiles must be reduced significantly. The outcomes of this project will enable both these imperatives to be achieved simultaneously. The project aim is to establish production lines in Europe that manufacture components for lightweight complex-shaped automobile body structures that are significantly lighter and of comparable strength and stiffness to those currently available.
This will be achieved by exploiting a new patented thermo-mechanical processing technology (HFQ) for sheet aluminium alloy that enables, for the first time, parts in heat treatable alloys to be produced to net-shape with maximum attainable mechanical properties. The life-cycle energy consumption of automobiles will be reduced; in the production stage, by the low energy requirements of HFQ, which is enhanced by the potential use of low cost recycled raw material and in the driving stage, by the reduced fuel consumption associated with lightweight vehicles. Reduced pollution is a natural corollary of low energy consumption.
Exploitation of this groundbreaking technology will be achieved through refinement of its laboratory scale development by university, research institution and manufacturing SME collaboration, leading to production lines being established in Tier 1 companies. Two such lines are anticipated as an outcome of the project. In 8 year period, over 30 production lines will be established in Europe and over 1000 jobs could be created. It is expected that new Al-alloy body and chassis structures will be produced in a mass-production scale, with weight saving of over 40% for the Classes C&D and above segment vehicles (which are currently made of steel). Thus, 60% of cars could be made with Al-body and chassis structures, and the resultant fuel saving in car usage would be up to 23% on average.
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