Carbon emission is currently a global concern as its repercussions are manifesting themselves in various ways; most predominantly through global warming. At present, vehicles running on internal combustions engines are among the leading carbon emitters. Statistically as it stands, road transport is responsible for 16.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions and 38% of fossil fuel consumption. Worse off, 85% of the fuel energy generated is usually wasted due to thermal and mechanical losses within the drivetrain. Modern day research has already discovered that, among other corrective measures, reducing the weight of the automobile by either integrating functions from multiple components or breaking them down, would enhance energy efficiency. Further developments have suggested the replacement of iron and steel with light alloys. Even though, much of this research has focused on small size or personal vehicles. Therefore, it is imperative that the same be considered for commercial vehicles as they have a higher carbon dioxide output per unit distance when compared to any other automobile.
To this effect, Streparava Spa Dr. Silvia Cecchel and Dr. Davide Ferrario in collaboration with University of Brescia Dr. Andrea Panvini and Dr. Giovanna Cornacchia developed a novel concept aluminum cross beam suspension for commercial vehicles as a replacement of the conventional structural steel production currently in use. They anticipated that the novel system would offer considerable weight reductions that would eventually be translated into lower fuel consumption hence lower energy wastage. All things considered, they purposed to reduce the carbon footprint of the human race with their novel system. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Materials and Design.
In brief, the research method employed entailed the fabrication of a component measuring 1260 × 450 mm, using high locking force HPDC machine equipped with vacuum in aluminum. The fabricated component was then subjected to various characterization and testing procedures, including: microstructural analyses, salt spray corrosion test, analysis of the most relevant failure modes, with microstructures, hardness tests, tensile tests, fractography, salt spray test and fatigue test bench road simulator with field test data.
The authors observed that a weight reduction of about 50% was achieved in their component. Furthermore, the use of appropriate materials, coupled with the new concept of design and a careful function integration allowed the structural limits to be overcome. The validation was successfully completed and the feasibility of the light alloy use for this particular heavy application was demonstrated. All in all, the outputs of the experimental activities on the concept component they designed were seen to constitute a useful database of properties.
In summary, the study by Dr. Silvia Cecchel and colleagues presented detailed validation and test activities aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of light alloy use for heavy application, that was achieved through careful material selection, appropriate design and accurate integration of functions. In general, the inhibiting structural mishaps were overcome significantly. Altogether, the weight reduction obtained (47%) in this range of vehicles corresponds to a concrete value (from 1 to 5 €/kg) which guarantees the project’s competitiveness not only technically but also economically.
S. Cecchel, D. Ferrario, A. Panvini, G. Cornacchia. Lightweight of a cross beam for commercial vehicles: Development, testing and validation. Materials and Design, volume 149 (2018) page 122–134.Go To Materials and Design