The mission to cut emissions
Cutting CO2 emissions is about more than just respecting the planet and the growing wishes of its people. It’s increasingly about compliance – which now has significant financial implications, from heavy fines in the EU to attractive and ever-changing ‘green’ incentives in other parts of the worlds like China. What can the industry do to tackle this challenge? Reduced weight, and increased electrification are some of the options…
The simplest way to cut fuel consumption and emissions is to make the vehicle lighter.
Plastics already play a major role in modern vehicles: In fact a single vehicle contains anywhere from 20 to 40 kilograms of engineering plastics, primarily around the engine where heat performance is important (see below).
However, when you consider that there are close to 30,000 parts in a single vehicle, it’s easy to see the potential to make vehicles far lighter. In fact by replacing metals with next-generation engineering plastics it’s possible to reduce weight of many vehicle components by up to 50 percent.
Handling the heat
Aside from weight reduction, another key way for the industry to cut emissions is to handle the heat inside the engine more effectively.
Increasingly drivers are turning to diesel engines or downsized gasoline engines with turbo for better performance. The intense heat they generate is way beyond the limits of many conventional under-the-hood components, which need to be regularly replaced at great financial and environmental cost; which is where high heat and heat resistant engineering plastics have a major role to play.
At DSM we already co-develop applications for starters, alternators, batteries and electro-motors for hybrid and electric vehicles, based on our engineering plastics. However, electric vehicles will still only represent between two and 10 percent of the global market by 2020. Which is why we are heavily involved in the trend towards efficient electrical systems and applications inside traditional internal combustion engines.
In all cases the resultant cost savings - based on miniaturization with high mechanical performance – is proving increasingly attractive in an industry where no-one can afford to remain static for very long.