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Johnson Controls Develops Lightweight Automotive Design Concepts

14 June 2011

Johnson Controls, with the help of industry and research partners, has developed design concepts for a lightweight vehicle.

The project, called CAMISMA (Carbon fibre- / Amide- /Metallic structural interior component using a multi-material approach), is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and funds research that seeks to replace steel and light alloys with fibre-reinforced composites, including carbon fibre, in automotive designs. Partner organisations working with Johnson Controls include: Evonik Industries, Jacob Plastics, Toho Tenax Europe and the Technical University Aachen. The CAMISMA project has an initial timeline of three years.

""As a result of climate change and the declining reservoir of fossil fuels, a key challenge for the automotive industry is to develop fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles,"" said Dr. Andreas Eppinger, Vice President Technology Management at Johnson Controls Automotive Experience. ""Vehicle weight is a key factor in determining fuel consumption, so it is important for projects like CAMISMA to help accomplish this goal.""

Johnson Controls say the CAMISMA project focuses on using fibre-reinforced composites (FRC), particularly those based on carbon fibre to replace steel. Recognised for their use in aircraft design, these materials are beneficial because they are high strength and lighter in weight than steel.

According to Johnson Controls, in the past, FRCs have been too expensive for use in automobile production because of increasing raw material prices and the length of time to produce them. Their CAMISMA project seeks to address these challenges. ""We are pursuing ways to make high volume production economically feasible,"" said Dr. Matthias Berghahn, Head of the Development Line Energy-Efficient Customer Solutions at the Science-to-Business Centre Eco² at Evonik Industries, one of Johnson Controls´ project partners.

With a goal of accelerating technical solutions through partnerships between economic and scientific stakeholders Johnson Controls explain that the project is an essential part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research's program ""Innovative Materials for Industry and Society,"" focusing on the development of new products and processes with a relevant benefit for the society.

The FRC seat structure aims to provide a solution for the industry to use economically priced carbon fibre-reinforced materials as well providing an interface between existing FRC components and metal-based vehicles. An automotive seat is being developed, manufactured and tested, as a concept for the approach and Johnson Controls explain the objective is to achieve more than a 40 percent weight reduction compared to conventional metal-based designs.

Johnson Controls recently announced a production-ready version of a rear seat back frame that incorporates adhesive bonded steel and aluminium components. ""With this design we reduced the weight by more than 30 percent compared to conventional steel designs,"" added Eppinger. ""We will continue to develop additional alternative, even lighter weight materials, with our partners in the CAMISMA project.""






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