The University of Leicester’s Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Centre facility is part of a winning bid for £1.4million R&D funding from Innovate UK as part of a team to optimise hybrid structures for the automotive sector.
In a statement they say that, “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 look into optimising this multi material approach to maximise the potential of each material and component within the structure of the vehicle, as opposed to the current trend of direct replacement from one material to another.
They say modern composite materials can be optimised to provide the same strength for lighter weight but the reality is that there is still a disconnect between computer modelling and actual construction, and that HALO aims to close that gap by analysing results from the real world and correlating them back into the virtual.
They say that ASDECs Robotised Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV) will be vital in analysis and correlation of what happens to these materials when used in a hybrid construction. New experimental measurement techniques will provide detailed information on joint structure interaction along with the repeatability and accuracy available using the Robovib system.
The end result of this project will be validated with the manufacture of a full size prototype to demonstrate how optimisation of these hybrid structures can work in real world manufacturing.
Commenting on the award, Tim Stubbs, ASDEC General Manager, said, “HALO is exactly the kind of project for which ASDEC was established, working at the cutting edge of automotive materials testing and analysis. Our unique set up of Robotised LDV and the ability to provide in-depth analysis of results will give the HALO team unparalleled insight into new hybrid structures and their performance to make them ready for real world applications.”
Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Director of ASDEC added, “I am delighted to be working on this new collaboration with industry in the composites area. 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 HALO project team comprises five companies working together to deliver optimum results for future lightweight automotive materials. 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.