Evonik leads venture to develop lightweight automotive materials

Evonik, Toho Tenax and other organizations have formed CAMIMSA, which aims to develop new materials and processes that integrate composites and metallic components to reduce auto weight.

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Evonik Industries (Essen, Germany) on April 29 announced the creation of a joint venture to develop materials and systems for lightweight solutions for the automotive sector. The venture involves three other industrial partners nearby (Johnson Controls GmbH, Jacob Plastics GmbH and Toho Tenax Europe GmbH) and the University of Aachen Institute for textile technology (ITA) and Automotive Institute (IKA).

Creavis, the strategic research and development centre of Evonik, is developing a novel lightweight construction concept. The project is called CAMIMSA, translated from the German: carbon fiber/amide/metal-based interior structural elements in a multi-material system approach. It is funding by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project began early April 2011 and will continue for three years. The overall goal is to reduce the weight of a standard automotive metallic system by 40 percent.

The effort addresses multi-material systems, which will lead to future lightweight designs of resource-saving mobility. Thus far, notes Evonik, lower weight was only realized by adjusting existing systems, such as thinner steel sheets; in the meantime, these solutions approached their natural limits. In this context, fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP), especially those based on carbon fibers, have received wide attention. However, for mass production in the automotive sector, they are still too expensive.

It is this point at which the CAMISMA project is positioned. “Here we plan to increase the production cycle rates in order to facilitate the economical mass production,” explains Dr. Matthias Berghahn, Evonik’s senior project manager of the Line of Development Energy Efficiency and Customer Solutions at the Science-to-Business Center Eco², who is responsible for the CAMISMA project.

Furthermore, the connection of FRP elements to metal-based frames has yet not been satisfactorily solved. The project will cover a complete solutions approach to allow the entrance of economically priced carbon fiber composites for multi-material systems. To determine the feasibility of this concept, an exemplary Seat Panel Structure will serve as a guide for development, production and testing.