The Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Centre (ASDEC), part of the University of Leicester, is part of a successful winning bid for £1.4million R&D funding from Innovate UK to improve hybrid structures for the automotive sector.

With low emissions and increased efficiency driving future automotive development, manufacturers are increasingly relying on using multi material (hybrid) structures to offer a cost-effective weight reduction. This will benefit both a reduction in raw materials used in production and improve vehicle efficiency. The Hybrid Automotive Lightweight Optimisation (HALO) project will research ways to maximise the potential of each material and component within the structure of the vehicle, rather than replace one material with another.

While modern composite materials can be improved to provide the same strength for lighter weight, there is still a disconnect between computer modelling and actual construction, the researchers suggest. HALO aims to close that gap by analyzing real world results and correlating them back into the virtual. The team will make use of ASDEC’s Robotised Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV) to analyze and correlate what happens to these materials when used in a hybrid construction. Experimental measurement techniques will provide information on joint structure interaction along with the repeatability and accuracy available using the Robovib system.

The project will be end by producing a full size prototype to demonstrate how improving hybrid structures can work in real world manufacturing.

Important technology

‘I am delighted to be working on this new collaboration with industry in the composites area,’ said Professor Sarah Hainsworth, director of ASDEC said. ‘3D laser Doppler vibrometry is a non-contact technique which is particularly important for measuring composites where the additional mass from more traditional techniques such as transducers would fundamentally change the vibration of these lightweight structures.  Light weighting is such an important technology for cars where savings of even a 100g of mass in a car can save tonnes of CO2 emissions when the number of cars in a fleet is considered.’

The companies involved are Jaguar Land Rover, FAR-UK, TWI, HPL Prototypes and ASDEC. HALO itself is part of a £38 million fund from the UK government through Innovate UK to help develop ideas and technology for cutting vehicle emissions and helping electric cars drive further.

This story uses material from ASDEC, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.