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DuPont sharpens its focus on lightweighting solutions

News International-French

28 Jun 2013

Innovative technology and material solutions to automotive lightweighting – helping automakers take weight out of vehicles to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy – are currently top of DuPont Performance Polymers R&D agenda.

The policy embraces collaborative developments with the industry to DuPont Zytel polyamide resin up to 6 kgs (50 percent) lighter than the aluminium it replaces, and a developmental thermoplastic composite technology that combines metals-replacing lightness, strength and stiffness in structural, load bearing and crash-protection parts for body-in white, suspension or underhood applications.

Lightweighting has been identified by the auto industry as a critical way to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. DuPont is collaborating with industry to develop lighter weight components that meet performance requirements by designing first for inherently lightweight plastics.

It has been estimated that reducing an automobile’s total weight by just 50kg can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 5g/km, and increase fuel economy by up to 2 percent. In engines alone, replacing metal with plastic in known engine applications can eliminate at least 11 kgs per vehicle, and double the life of parts exposed to high heat in turbo charged engines. Apply that to the 83 million engines scheduled for 2013, and the need for over 1 billion litres of fuel, or almost 10 million barrels of crude oil, can be eliminated.

Lightweight Plastic Oil Pan
To demonstrate how well this collaboration can work, DuPont will show a large truck oil pan of DuPont Zytel polyamide resin, injection-moulded by ElringKlinger for Mercedes-Benz, that is up to 6 kgs (50 percent) lighter than aluminium, and can resist stone and gravel chip impact during the typical 1.5 million kilometre lifetime of a truck or bus engine. There also is a 2 decibel (dB) reduction in noise level compared with metal.

Reducing component weight translates into better fuel efficiency and sustainability without compromising safety, while helping to meet tough Euro 6 emission limits.

Lighter, Stronger Structures
To meet a critical need for lighter, stronger structural materials, DuPont is working with automakers and tier one component manufacturers on developmental projects using thermoplastic composites for structural or load-bearing components, such as seat structures, lift-gates, crossmembers, bumper beams and suspension systems.

Work with PSA Peugeot Citroen on testing a side impact beam using DuPont Vizilon, a developmental thermoplastic composite technology, showed a 40 percent weight reduction compared to ultra-high strength (UHHS) steel, while absorbing more energy than metal and short glass-fibre polymer beams. As a result, DuPont Vizilon passed PSA Peugeot Citroën’s crash test, making it well-suited for crash components. Vizilon® also offers stiffness performance in temperatures from -40°C to +90°C, and outperforms polypropylene-based composites above 80°C.

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