WMG, at the University of Warwick, has worked with partners, to create a new design of incredibly lightweight Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicle frame which is weaved, or braided, from carbon fibre composites into a series of tubes to create a first prototype demonstrator frame. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Business and Industry Andrew Stephenson became one of the very first people to see the new design, outside of the research partnership, on a visit to WMG on 16th May.
Working with the lightweight structural composite components company Far, and Transport Design International Ltd in Stratford upon Avon the demonstrator can be easily assembled by adhesive and simple welding.
Dr Darren Hughes Associate Professor in Materials and Manufacturing at WMG at the University of Warwick said:
“Our BRAINSTORM VLR research partnership has achieved significant weight-saving, allowing VLR services to accommodate more passengers while reducing the energy required to propel the vehicle and the weight stress it will place on its rails and road surface.”
“The technology also ensures that the vehicle is tough for a long life in service, easily repairable when accidents happen and strong enough to protect the passengers on board.”
The innovative highly efficient very light weight approach consists of an underlying tubular spaceframe chassis which provides the body shell. In the first demonstrator frame the partners have produced they were able to keep the beams the same outside diameter but their wall thickness is tailored to give the optimum performance depending on where it will be used. This keeps the tooling costs low and allows for all the joining to be standardised through a combination of welding and adhesive bonding.
If any significant damage is caused to any individual beam through an accidental impact each damaged beam can simply be entirely replaced with a new one. Best of all the thermoplastic material is inherently recyclable.
The whole moulding cycle has been shown to be capable of being reduced to less than five minutes, demonstrating the potential of this affordable process for high-volume applications. The braiding process is highly automated and with rates of over a mile a day of braided tubing.
This braiding method also allows for a wide range of materials to be used. Almost any fibres (carbon, glass and aramid) can be combined with a huge range of thermoplastics, from low cost Polypropylene to high end Polyether ether ketone (PEEK) to create a material that suits the given application
Lyndon Sanders Director and General Manager of Nottingham based lightweight structural composite components company Far said:
“The BRAINSTORM Project feels like a real step forward to the team at Far Composites. Being able to tap into the industry experience of TDI to hone the principle of a new type of body structure for mass transit applications was great. Add to that the collaborative working with Composites Braiding and WMG to turn that thinking into a physical demonstrator to show what it would be like in practice was really powerful. Now it’s more than a good idea, now it’s an eye opener for industry players who can see it, touch it and even pick it up.”
20 MAY 2019
Note for Editors:
High-res images available, please credit The University of Warwick:
The design of the frame with some other sections attached
Dr Darren Hughes (right) showing Lyndon Sanders Director and General Manager of Far (left of picture) the braiding pattern on the frame
Dr Darren Hughes Associate Professor in Materials and Manufacturing at WMG at the University of Warwick (left) showing Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Business and Industry Andrew Stephenson (right of picture) all the design stages of the VLR vehicle
The frame with less attached
A further view
The Full list of partners on the project are: WMG at the University of Warwick, the UK's Governments innovation agency Innovate UK, Far composites, Composite Braiding ,and Transport Design International Ltd in Stratford upon Avon
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
Transport Minister visits WMG to launch Call for Evidence on the Future of Mobility and announce 6 research projects on autonomous vehicles
Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, visited WMG today (Monday 30th July 2018) to launch the Government’s “Call for Evidence on the Future of Mobility”. He announced six Innovate UK funded autonomous vehicle research projects, saying:
“We are beginning to experience profound change in how we move people, goods and services around the UK’s cities, towns and countryside. The Future of Mobility Grand Challenge – part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy - aims to capitalise on the opportunities presented by these changes to help reduce emissions, improve safety and wellbeing and place the UK at the forefront of global transport innovation. The Call for Evidence will help inform this programme, and seeks views from a range of audiences right across the country.”
Two of the six research projects he announced involve WMG, at the University of Warwick, with a total of £4.1m in research funding from Innovate UK
The delegation led by Mr Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons were given a tour of the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC). The Centre, which is a long-term commitment between Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, WMG and the University of Warwick, is a unique resource and the first of its kind in Europe, providing an environment to foster collaboration, cohesion and sharing knowledge, combining automotive expertise nationally and internationally.
The visitors were also shown our state-of-the-art 3xD Simulator for Intelligent Vehicles where experts explained more about Midlands Future Mobility, a £25m project led by WMG which will see roads in Coventry and Birmingham become the UK testbed for developing the next generation connected and autonomous vehicles.
Finally, Mr Chandrasekaran and his colleagues were given a tour of our Energy Innovation Centre, which is going through significant expansion, and will see WMG to continue to provide a unique facility for industry and academia to develop innovative energy storage technology.
Mr Chandrasekaran and his colleagues was very interested to see for themselves some of the WMG projects and commented on the quality of research and innovative approach to R&D.
The delegation was led by Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India, Birmingham and Dr Achyuta Samanta, Honourable Member of Parliament, Founder of Kalinga IIT and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences; and Mr Vikramaditya.
Afterwards the delegation was joined by members of the Indian community in the West Midlands for a drinks reception.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, visited WMG at the University of Warwick today (4 May 2018), as part of his ‘homecoming’ tour around Coventry, the city where he was first ordained.
During his visit to WMG, Archbishop Welby toured world-class automotive research facilities, including the Energy Innovation Centre and the new £150m National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) with WMG Chairman Professor Lord Bhattacharyya.
He also joined a small group of business leaders to discuss the future of smart, connected and electrified vehicles, and the renaissance of the automotive industry in the West Midlands– topics which are at the heart of WMG research and development...
WMG was delighted to welcome Rick Snyder, Governor of the State of Michigan, on Friday (20 April 2018).
Our Academic Director, Professor Barbara Shollock introduced the Governor to WMG and gave an overview of our research capabilities and education programmes including those aimed at the next generation of young engineers and our executive education programmes.
The Governor was then given a tour of our world-class research and development facilities, including the International Manufacturing Centre. There, Professor Paul Jennings explained more about our Intelligent Vehicles research, including our state-of-the-art ‘3XD Simulator for Intelligent Vehicles.’ Professor Jennings also explained more about the UK Central CAV Testbed, a £25m project led by WMG which will see roads in Coventry and Birmingham become the UK testbed for developing the next generation connected and autonomous (CAV) vehicles. This was an area of particular interest as the University of Michigan is home to MCity, a demo ground built specifically for driverless car technology.
He spoke yesterday, Monday 19th March 2018, at WMG, University of Warwick about his passion for renewable energy.
During his event, ‘In Conversation with Robert Llewellyn’, the famous advocate of clean technologies shared his experience of involvement with this field - particularly the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles, and how he sees the scale and pace of this technological shift first hand.
Robert also gave his thoughts on how the media covers one of the most transformational changes of our times.
While he was at WMG’s International Manufacturing Centre, he sat in a Tesla Model X - but unlike the other spaceman recently launched into space in a Telsa car, he a had a lot more to say about our clean energy futures.
As well as the Tesla Model X, Nissan Westway were at WMG with the new Leaf, demonstrating the new e-Pedal - and Jaguar Land Rover’s I-Pace completed the line-up of cutting edge electric vehicles on the campus.
Whilst at WMG, the Committee met with current students, studying on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, who were able to talk to them about teaching quality, tutor support, fees and how their degrees are helping them prepare for the world of work. They also met with students who are working and undertaking degree apprenticeships, paid for by their employers, and wanted to understand how their experiences differ to full-time students, and why they chose this route over a traditional university degree.
Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, founder and Chairman of WMG was delighted to welcome Bernadette Kelly, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, to WMG today (Thursday 22nd February).
Bernadette Kelly said ‘It was great to visit WMG and to hear directly from Lord Bhattacharyya about the huge range of its work across many sectors and technologies. The work WMG is doing on battery technology and smart and connected vehicles in particular is hugely important to the transport sector. My Department looks forward to working with the WMG and the region on the Future of Mobility, one of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges.’
Mr Chandrasekaran was very interested to see for himself some of the projects that WMG and Tata companies are collaborating on, and to understand the breadth and depth of WMG’s research, education and technology transfer activities.
To bring these to life, he was given a tour of WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre, which is going through significant expansion, and will see WMG to continue to provide a unique facility for industry and academia to develop innovative energy storage technology. Mr Chandrasekaran also visited the Advanced Steels Research Centre and the International Manufacturing Centre where the focus was on light weighting, metrology and intelligent vehicles. As well as hearing from the Institute of Digital Healthcare.