LIGHTRANS PROJECT - January 2021
DEVELOPMENT OF LIGHT STRUCTURAL COMPONENTS BASED ON LOW-COST PROCESSES FOR THEIR APPLICATION IN ECO-EFFICIENT MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION
The main objective of the LIGHTRANS project is the design and development of lightweight multi-material structures, through the development of optimised and low-cost manufacturing and joining processes that allow their application in eco-efficient road transport vehicles. Specifically, it will be redesigned a superstructure of an eco-efficient bus and three-wheel electronic vehicle.
The need for initiatives such as LIGHTRANS is based on the search for efficient solutions at a global level for the reduction of CO2 emissions caused by means of transport, the fight agains the deterioration of air quality in cities, the objective of minimizing the effect on basic ecosystems for life on the planet and to achieve less dependance on oil reserves in the automotive field.
In this sense, the project is aligned with the 2 most common areas of research and development in the transport sector to solve to a certain extent these factors: action on electrified transport systems and development of light solutions (both for internal combustion vehicles and new electric vehicles). In the same way, it also seeks to provide solutions to the barriers that prevent the most extensive use of polymer matrix composite materials (MCMP) in the transport sector (limited manufacturing rate, high cost of materials and processes when seeking to maximise mechanical performance or recycling /repairing difficulties.
Based on this background, LIGHTRANS proposes to combine, in a strategic way and certain elements, materials of different nature (thermoset and thermoplastic composites, cellular polymers and steel), in such a way that weight of the structures developed for an electric vehicle of three wheels and for an eco-efficient bus is minimal, its structural performance is maximal, there is a good economic balance and it allows to minimize the environmental impact of the vehicle.
In this third year, 2020, the development of activities related to the optimization of the multimaterial designs of the different case studies has continued, thus ending with the redesign of the chassis and swingarm for the three-wheeled vehicle and the superstructure of the light bus. In the same way, different molds and tools have been designed and manufactured, necessary for the development of the prototype components, and the structural nodes for the bus superstructure have been developed and characterized. Furthermore, it should be noted that the assembly work of the constituent components of the final structures of the light bus has begun and the validation modes of the representative section of the bus superstructure have been defined by means of a custom test, after which it will be measured the deformation obtained. In the case of the three-wheeled vehicle using a multi-material solution, the assembly of the demonstrator has begun. Finally, it should be noted that in parallel to the definition of multimaterial solutions, the environmental impact assessment of the designed structures has been being carried out, as well as the corresponding recyclability studies.
In order to achieve the ambitious objectives set, LIGHTRANS counts with six companies with a complementary profile, which cover the entire value chain of the ativities proposed:
- VMS AUTOMOTIVE, LIGHTRANS project leader, final user and developer of an innovative 100% electric three-wheeled vehicle.
- CARROCERÍAS CASTROSUA, final user of the project, manufacturer of bus and coach bodies and pioneer in the development of hybrid propulsion systems
- RESINAS CASTRO, as a company specialised in thermoset matrix composites (MCTE) in combination with high-performance fibers and in non-autoclave manufacturing processes.
- ALEACIONES LIGERAS Y PLÁSTICOS, company specialised in thermoplastic materials and their manufacturing processes (thermoforming, injection), galvanic protection coatings and injection of cellular materials.
- POLIÉSTERES SOBRAL, expert company in processing thermoset matrix composites by liquid resin injection processes, such as RTM (resin transfer molding).
- UNTHA IBÉRICA, company specialised in recycling solutions.
- In addition, the consortium counts with the participation of the AIMEN technology center, an entity with extensive experience in design, manufacturing and characterization of composite and multi-material components, as well as in the study of dissimilar joints and in the optimization of manufacturing processes; and with the Laboratory of Mechanical Engineering of the University of A Coruña, expert in the study of the dynamics of multibody systems applied to the automotive industry.
LIGHTRANS project is framed in the CONECTAPEME 2018 PROGRAMME, it is financed by the Xunta de Galicia through the Galician Innovation Agency (GAIN) and it has the support of the Ministry of Economy, Employment and Industry and it is cofinanced by FEDER funds in the framework of axis 1 of the operational Feder Galician Programme 2014-2020.