Research Scope and Challenge
The Electrical Distribution System (EDS) within motor vehicles is becoming more complex with the increasing number of electrical safety and driver aids. This complexity, increases the wiring harness size, weight, cost and impacts on the Environment. The vehicle harness is an assembly made up of copper wire (of various sizes) covered in an insulating material (mainly PVC), connectors, protectors and fasteners. The number of wires per harness varies dependant on complexity; the average family vehicle having approximately 1000 wires (1.5 km) and an approximate copper weight of 16 kg.
This research project will attempt to identify alternative conductor and insulating materials to reduce the reliance on Copper and PVC. Copper is continually increasing in cost and PVC is not a recyclable material and has a major impact on the environment. One of the main challenges of this project will be to find replacement materials of comparable cost and properties.
High Level objectives
- To keep the temperature rise of the conductor due to electrical resistance to similar levels to that of copper
- Devise a way of characterising these conditions, via measurement etc.To provide suitable insulation to prevent accidental short circuit
- To investigate the practicalities of using composites and/or alloysIncrease the number of components that can be recycled within the vehicleReduce the environmental impact (material selection, processes etc.)
Tata Motors consistently has to deal with harness packaging issues relating to the physical size of the harness, the increasing weight and cost, whilst maintaining system performance. With the material changes, there are opportunities for Tata Motors to lead in a new technology and an innovative way of redefining the Electrical Distribution in the automotive industry.
Through this research, Tata Motors will be able to reduce its reliance on copper and PVC and have more of an insight into the materials used in a motor vehicle.
This research can potentially lead into other areas of interest for the application of composite materials.
Dr Kerry Kirwan
Dr James Meredith