The three-day event takes place at the Academy's home, Prince Philip House, in London, UK. Professor Kirwan, who leads our sustainable materials and manufacturing team, will be chairing a session on Frontiers of Engineering for Development: The Circular Economy.
The symposium is part of a series of international, interdisciplinary workshops that aim to facilitate network building, encourage collaborative work and promote international development and cross-disciplinary thinking among the future leaders of engineering from the UK and around the world.
More information on the symposium can be found here.
Ford cars could be more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, thanks to a new lightweight rear suspension component, designed by the award-winning Innovate UK project Composite Lightweight Automotive Suspension System (CLASS), involving WMG at the University of Warwick.
Led by Ford Motor Company, in partnership with WMG, Gestamp Chassis and GRM, the CLASS project consortium developed a new tieblade-knuckle for a Ford Class C vehicle, a key element for the car’s rear suspension.
An optimised design and manufacturing process developed by WMG enabled the researchers to replace the car’s current multiple-piece fabricated steel component with a single moulding - making a weight saving in excess of 4.5kg per vehicle, a 35% saving on the current part.
This will result in CO2 savings over the lifetime of the vehicle, and the technology is appropriate for much wider vehicle chassis and body applications.
In March 2018, the CLASS project won a JEC Innovation Award, in the Automotive Innovation category.
Researchers at WMG carried out materials selection by moulding test plaques and measuring material performance characteristics. This was fed into the design of the part, carried out by Gestamp, before optimisation of the design, carried out by GRM.
Additional moulding trials carried out by Ford and WMG using a surrogate geometry at Ford’s Research & Innovation facilities provided the required design for manufacture input which was used by Gestamp to further optimise the design.
The complex part has a large number of attachments and must be able to withstand severe in-service and abuse loads. The final design utilised the performance and processing properties of combined continuous and discontinuous carbon fibre composite materials.
Professor Ken Kendall, Head of Structural Composites, Automotive Composites Research Centre at WMG, University of Warwick, commented:
“The CLASS project is the first collaborative project completed through the Automotive Composites Research Centre, and shows the strength of expertise and excellence of our facility.
“Working with high volume OEM and Tier 1 partners such as Ford and Gestamp is at the heart of our activities, and we were able to provide the CLASS project with our expertise in materials characterisation and selection, design for manufacturability, and manufacturing process development.
“Our extensive and comprehensive facilities provided us with the capability to manufacture the tieblade/knuckle in-house in production representative processes ready for transition to our Tier 1 partners.
“The project demonstrates WMG’s capability to provide and deliver manufacturing leadership in industrial partnerships.”
Making cars lighter to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions is a continuing challenge to automotive OEMs.
Weight reduction efforts usually target body components, as these typically have less demanding design and service load requirements than powertrain or chassis applications.
Reducing unsprung mass in chassis application has the additional benefit of improving vehicle ride and handling and, while composite suspension components are common in motorsport, to date they have not been used in mainstream automotive applications. The CLASS project set out to investigate the potential benefits of doing so.
Alan Banks, Commercial Vehicle Suspension Supervisor, Ford Motor Company, commented:
“The project was extremely difficult to bring home successfully due to the complexities of the design and manufacturing processes. It was through WMG’s expertise, world-class facilities and capabilities that the project was able to be completed on time.
“All of the project goals were achieved to enable the team to begin the next steps toward implementing the mass production process.”
Image 1: Members of the Composite Lightweight Automotive Suspension System (CLASS) project at the JEC Innovation Awards in March 2018. Credit WMG, University of Warwick - click image for high res.
Image 2: The CLASS project winning the JEC Innovation Award in the Automotive Innovation category, March 2018. Credit WMG, University of Warwick - click image for high res.
13 March 2018
Researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick have developed a new direct, precise test of Lithium-ion batteries’ internal temperatures and their electrodes potentials and found that the batteries can be safely charged up to five times faster than the current recommended charging limits. The new technology works in-situ during a battery’s normal operation without impeding its performance and it has been tested on standard commercially available batteries. Such new technology will enable advances in battery materials science, flexible battery charging rates, thermal and electrical engineering of new battery materials/technology and it has the potential to help the design of energy storage systems for high performance applications such as motor racing and grid balancing.
If a battery becomes over heated it risks severe damage particularly to its electrolyte and can even lead to dangerous situations where the electrolyte breaks down to form gases than are both flammable and cause significant pressure build up. Overcharging of the anode can lead to so much Lithium electroplating that it forms metallic dendrites and eventually pierce the separator causing an internal short circuit with the cathode and subsequent catastrophic failure.
The Challenge which took place at Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, is designed to attract fresh new talent into the rail industry. Each team was tasked with designing and manufacturing a miniature railway locomotive in accordance with a specific technical brief. This was the first year WMG had competed, and the team achieved sixth place.
Inspired by the materials that helped astronauts survive Apollo 11’s mission to the moon, Professor Tony McNally has focused his career on developing new composites based on nano materials. WMG’s Professor McNally, who is based at the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), was recently interviewed for Reinforced Plastics (www.reinforcedplastics.com), below is a snapshot of his thoughts on the challenges facing his research field.
While my research is rooted in fundamental engineering science, the target is functional composite materials that can be readily manufactured into products in high volumes.
WMG at the University of Warwick has established a new National Plastics Processing Centre (NPPC) which will provide a national hub for innovation and research in plastics processing.
The new NPPC brings a fully integrated approach to plastics design, manufacturing and disposal, encompassing multifunctional design and low environmental impact.
WMG has an extensive range of plastic design, manufacture and research technologies across its facilities which will now work together in the new Centre. It will have its own bespoke building by 2017 with facilities for training, research and development, and will also house a fully equipped elastomer technology laboratory.
WMG has an established track record of innovation and technology transfer in plastics processing. It has developed extensive capabilities and facilities across a wide range of processes and working with both large global companies and SMEs across a variety of sectors to develop and embed plastics processing. The capability offered from WMG is that most widely used within the plastics industry's processes including extrusion/compounding, injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding and rotational moulding.
Dr Stuart Coles is an Assistant Professor in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing His main research interests are based around sustainability and the substitution of natural materials into industrial products.
Commenting on the Automobile Association (AA) joining green groups in warning that changes in energy policy will harm the climate he said:
“Incentives are needed on low-emission vehicles to keep them attractive to consumers whilst technology catches up and battery-powered cars are able to compete in terms of function with conventional vehicles."
“In his Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the nil vehicle excise duty (VED) band for clean petrol cars would be restricted in future to electric vehicles. This removes a tax break for clean petrol cars and hybrids, which will from 2017, attract the same VED as gas guzzlers."
“The Government’s policy on VED is damaging to the environment as effective low carbon options, such as plug-in hybrids, will now fall into the same tax band as many other higher emission vehicles. Whilst clean electric vehicles are available, they are not currently able to travel much farther than 100-120 miles (the maximum for the Nissan Leaf is 124 miles with perfect conditions) and are therefore not a viable option on many journeys.”
Strategic Partnership between WMG and Thermotec Plastics Leads to New Client Offering Worth £1.5 Million
Birmingham based Thermotec Plastics Ltd and WMG at the University of Warwick have worked on a project together to develop a new product offering for the automotive and aerospace markets that is worth £1.5 million in new turnover for the business.
Thermotec Plastics, an innovative and bespoke supplier of engineered solutions in vacuum forming and polyurethane mouldings created a new composite material with impressive lightweight properties and WMG undertook a testing programme that validated the product for market.
The collaboration developed when David Rose, managing director of Thermotec was asked for performance related data for the new composite material by a key automotive client. Thermotec was unable to produce the data in-house as the testing equipment required was investment prohibitive. He therefore approached WMG’s SME Team at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation who were able to undertake the testing through their funded Innovation Programme for West Midlands SMEs.
More used to testing batteries for transport, including cars, trains and motorsport as it’s Christmas experts were more than happy to help reporter, Anita Rani with a scientific test to understand how a range of different AA batteries available on the high street might perform. The tests were carried out in WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre using the battery characterisation laboratory and part of the £13m Battery Materials Scale-Up Pilot Line.
Mark Amor-Segan, Principal Engineer and Shane Beattie, Technical Manager, for the Battery Scale-up Facility, conducted blind scientific tests on 16 different AA batteries. The batteries came from three different battery chemistry families: i) zinc-chloride, ii) alkaline and iii) lithium. All 16 batteries were tested at a constant current of 500 mA down to 1.1 V. The voltage profile was recorded using a highly accurate battery cycler. All batteries were kept at 20 degrees using a thermal chamber to provide a controlled test environment. For The One Show viewers Anita came armed with 16 toy puppies and fitted each with the 16 different types of batteries. Keeping the puppies in a 20 degree room, the same temperature used to test the batteries, and watched over by a researcher, they were set off to see which would last the longest.
On Wednesday 10th December Coventry company Premier Group are to present a gift of an Olympic torch to Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Chairman of WMG at the University of Warwick revealing the secret story of how leading edge UK car manufacturing technology was used to create the torch.
Automotive companies are constantly looking for new high tech alloys and metals to make vehicles greener by reducing weight while retaining strength. Companies such as Premier Group who supply metal vehicle components need to quickly find new ways of working with shaping, welding and bonding these new materials if they are new to meet their customers evolving needs and in Premier Group’s case it turns to WMG for the manufacturing technology it needs.
When Premier Group received the contract to supply the 2012 Olympic torch it immediately faced a very familiar problem - an ambitious design using lightweight materials that would aid the runner carrying the torch but challenge the manufacturer creating it. As ever it was WMG who solved this problem, and they did so without charge as WMG’s contribution to a successful Olympics.