reportAerospace, Automotive & Transport
1.1 Executive Summary
Both automotive and aeronautics sectors are important industrial sectors in Europe. The European automotive industry produces 17,1 million passenger cars yearly, which is 32% of the worldwide vehicle manufacturing (ACEA, EU-27 data, 2008). The European Aerospace and defence industry had a turnover of € 132.2 billion in 2007, of which around 52% was related to military applications. Excluding defence, the European Aerospace industry had a turnover of around € 90 billion in 2004, of which 91% came from aircraft manufacturing and the remaining turnover from missiles and space. Within aircraft manufacturing, the biggest share came from large civil aircrafts (around 22% of total EU aerospace industry turnover) and military aircrafts (around 17%). Aircraft engines represented 9% whereas aircraft maintenance represented above 19%.
Accordingly, there have been significant research and development activities in these sectors. In addition to competition, efficient use of energy resources, reduction in CO2 emissions, relevant regulations and increased safety and comfort are important drivers for these industries' investment in R&D. To give an example, in Europe automotive industry invests 5% of its annual turnover in R&D while this figure reaches 14.4% in the case of aeronautics sector.
Industry aims to decrease weight while increasing engine efficiency and overall performance of the vehicles to be able to reduce CO2 footprint and therefore, energy consumption. Consequently, research activities are focused on using lighter materials with improved performance for lighter vehicle components, increasing engine efficiency via reducing energy losses due to friction or via developing more efficient combustion systems, and, increasing the safety via improving the mechanical properties of various parts, etc.
This report provides an overview on processing technologies of nanotructured metals, polymer nanocomposites and tribological coatings for automotive / aeronautics applications.
Bulk forms of nanostructured metals and alloys exhibit extraordinarily high strength and high corrosion resistance as compared to their microstructured counterparts. Besides their exceptional properties, they are preferred for applications in automotive and aeronautics part due to their ease of manufacturing via reduced machining times and forging temperatures. These exceptional properties of nanostructured metals would make replacement of steel with a lighter material e.g. aluminium, magnesium, etc. So far, the most promising technologies to produce nanostructured metals are Severe Plastic Deformation (SPD) and among them Large Strain Extrusion Machining (LSEM). The biggest challenge for these technologies' feasible applications in transport industries is to be able to produce large parts with nanostructured metals at competitive costs.
Polymer nanocomposites, which are nanofillers incorporated polymer composites, can find applications in both structural and non-structural parts of the vehicles and also on parts, like fuselage where electrical discharge is a problem. Most common nanofillers that have been investigated for their applications in PNCs are nanoclays, carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers, graphene. Use of small amounts, 5-10%, of these nanofillers instead of their glass counterparts in polymer matrices bring drastic improvements while leading to a considerable weight reduction. Main research challenges for use of nanofillers is the dispersion, compatibility with the polymer matrix and homogeneous alignment in the case of nanotubes and nanofibers. Challenges regarding to their widespread use in vehicle applications are cost, availability of these materials in large amount with good quality.
Tribological coatings of different materials containing carbides, nitrides, metals or ceramics play a key role in the performance of internal mechanical components of a vehicle, such as the engine and power train. By reducing wear and friction tribological coatings increase the lifetime of the working material at the same time that they reduce the dissipation of energy as heat, thus increasing the efficiency of the vehicle. Coatings can increase tool productivity (longer tool life, higher cycle frequencies, less workpiece finishing), reduce manufacturing costs, improve the quality of products (due to smoother surfaces, better dimensional stability, higher degrees of metal deformation and fewer manufacturing steps) and reduce lubricant consumption.
Thermal spraying processes eg. atmospheric plasma spraying and high velocity oxygen fuel, and vapour deposition processes eg. physical vapor deposition (PVD) and chemical vapour deposition (CVD) processes are the common processing technologies for tribological coatings. The most important challenge to overcome in relation to application of tribological coatings on vehicle parts is the chamber sizes for large parts and accordingly long processing times where vacuum is required.
This report does not contain any economic data about the processes (production costs, production rates and investments necessary). This is a field that should be analysed in a separate study, so that the industry could evaluate the cost-benefit balance associated to the processes for bulk nanostructured metals.
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