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Title: The Cost of Automotive Polymer Composites: A Review and Assessment of DOE's Lightweight Materials Composites Research

Polymer composite materials have been a part of the automotive industry for several decades, with early application in the 1953 Corvette. These materials have been used for applications with low production volumes, because of their shortened lead times and lower investment costs relative to conventional steel fabrication. Important drivers of the growth of polymer composites have been the reduced weight and parts consolidation opportunities the material offers, as well as design flexibility, corrosion resistance, material anisotropy, and mechanical properties. Although these benefits are well recognized by the industry, polymer composite use has been dampened by high material costs, slow production rates, and to a lesser extent, concerns about recyclability. Also impeding large scale automotive applications is a curious mixture of concerns about material issues such as crash energy absorption, recycling challenges, competitive and cost pressures, the industry's general lack of experience and comfort with the material, and industry concerns about its own capabilities (Flynn and Belzowski 1995). Polymer composite materials are generally made of two or more material components--fibers, either glass or carbon, reinforced in the matrix of thermoset or thermoplastic polymer materials. The glass-reinforced thermoset composites are the most commonly used composite in automotive applications today, but thermoplastic compositesmore » and carbon fiber-reinforced thermosets also hold potential. It has been estimated that significant use of glass-reinforced polymers as structural components could yield a 20-35% reduction in vehicle weight. More importantly, the use of carbon fiber-reinforced materials could yield a 40-65% reduction in weight.« less
Authors:
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
777656
Report Number(s):
ORNL/TM-2000/283
TRN: AH200118%%114
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-96OR22464
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 26 Jan 2001
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab., TN (US)
Sponsoring Org:
US Department of Energy (US)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; ANISOTROPY; AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY; CARBON; COMPOSITE MATERIALS; CORROSION RESISTANCE; ENERGY ABSORPTION; MECHANICAL PROPERTIES; POLYMERS; RECYCLING