Lightweight construction is a key technology for energy-efficient, low-emission, and inexpensive vehicles. In the new Technology Cluster on Composites (TC2), researchers are working on lightweight fiber-composite structures suited for the production of large series. The project is coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science will fund TC2 with a total amount of about EUR 9.2 million in the next three years. Another approx. EUR 7.2 million will be contributed by industry.
“Energy consumption of a vehicle directly depends on its weight,” explains TC2 project coordinator Timo Müller from the KIT Institute of Vehicle System Technology (FAST). A low weight contributes to the economic efficiency and environmental compatibility of vehicles. Electric vehicles are particularly dependent on lightweight car bodies. Hence, lightweight construction plays a key role for the dissemination of electromobility. Components made of glass or carbon fiber laminates, which have already been applied successfully in aerospace technology and racing sports, can considerably reduce the weight. These materials may replace steel in highly loaded vehicle structures.
Science and industry in Baden-Württemberg play a leading role in lightweight construction. The Technology Cluster on Composites that will take up work this week is aimed at pooling the competences of research institutions in the field of composite materials and at establishing an interface to industry. As KIT is a major partner in the research network in South Germany, which is reflected by the Competence Center for Lightweight Vehicle Construction (KFL) and the Innovation Cluster for Hybrid Lightweight Construction (KITe hyLITE), it was asked to coordinate the project. “The competences of the partners allow for a holistic approach to lightweight vehicle construction,” says project coordinator Timo Müller.
The researchers will develop, construct, and study vehicle-relevant demonstration components. Based on the results, it is planned to construct vehicles for urban and regional traffic in further projects with industry partners. The cluster is funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg with a total amount of about EUR 9.2 million. Among others, these funds come from the State Initiative for Electromobility and the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE). Industry will contribute another about EUR 7.2 million.
The KIT Institutes of Vehicle System Technology, Production Science, Applied Materials - Materials Science and Engineering, Product Engineering, and of Engineering Mechanics participate in the new cluster. Research partners are Stuttgart University, the German Aerospace Center, Fraunhofer Society, the Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering Denkendorf, the Universities of Ravensburg-Weingarten, Esslingen, and Constance, and the Automotive Simulation Center Stuttgart. Among the industry partners are Daimler AG, Porsche AG, BASF, Sika, DSM Resins, Menzolit, and Dieffenbacher.
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,600 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 23,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.