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Hybrid Materials for Tomorrows Cars

13 January 2003

A UK team has visited some of the key automotive organisations in Germany and Switzerland to gain a European perspective on future strategies in hybrid and composite structures.

Whatever the cars of ten years time look like, one thing is certain: the latest developments in materials technologies will be used to help achieve the greatest possible efficiencies and effectiveness in their manufacture, in key operating parameters such as fuel economy and impact resistance, in minimising their environmental impact and in the potential to recycle their component parts.

Identifying just what those developments might be and ensuring that the UK automotive industry will be able to exploit them were the objectives of the five day DTI International Technology Service mission. The mission, organised by Faraday Advance – the Faraday Partnership in Automotive and Aerospace Materials – enabled a group of UK specialist materials researchers and manufacturers to gain insights into current developments in two countries generally regarded as leaders in the field. The UK team visited the following organizations in Germany and Switzerland:

- Ford R&D Centre, Aachen
- BMW, Munich
- DLR, Stuttgart
- IKV, Aachen
- IKA, Aachen
- Rieter Automotive, Winterthur
- Alcan Technology, Neuhausen
- Horlacher, Möhlin

In particular the mission focused on the area of hybrid materials applications, using different types of material – metals, plastics or composites, for instance – to create components or sub-structures to enable the best properties of the materials to be exploited in a synergistic fashion. However, several issues need to be addressed, including effective joining techniques for different materials, developing economic techniques for the volume production of composite components and ensuring that hybrid structures can be easily disassembled and recycled, a crucial consideration in the light of the EU’s End of Life Directive.

DTI International Technology Promoter and mission member, Dr Martin Kemp, commented,’This mission allowed us a unique ‘snapshot’ of the way strategy is developing in the mainland European car industry, and forged good links for future partnership’.

A full report on the findings of the mission will be available at the beginning of February. There is also an important dissemination event - a free one-day seminar to present the detailed findings of this technology mission - on 6th February at Cranfield University. For more details on the event, contact Sue Panteny at the address below or to download a brochure and registration form, please click here





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