Automotive lightweighting is here to stay—emission and fuel economy regulations are driving the lightweighting market. Lightweighting is beneficial for both internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, and also adds value to two-wheelers.
The automotive lightweight material market is projected to grow from USD 89.1 billion in 2019 to USD 157.7 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 7.4%, according to the report, "Automotive Lightweight Material Market by Material, Application & Component, Vehicle Type, Region - Global Forecast to 2027." The increasing demand for lightweight materials is driven by the rising usage of electric vehicles and stringent emission norms and fuel economy regulations.
One component that lends itself well to lightweighting is the fuel tank. Traditionally, automotive fuel tanks are made of either metal or High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. A fuel tank in an ICE-based vehicle is dependent on its capacity and fuel efficiency to cover maximum distances. Larger tanks are heavier and take more space though they increase the maximum distance covered by vehicle. It is also a known fact that metal tanks add weight and HDPE material involves a complex multilayer design and fluorination treatment to restrict fuel permeation to meet EVAP norms.
It seems that fuel tanks are the perfect components to lightweight, but this opportunity does come with its challenges. Lightweighting applications designed for ICE vehicles must help the entire vehicle meet the emission norms and achieve fuel efficiency requirements, while applications for hybrid vehicles need to extend the driving range of the vehicle. Plus the materials solution used needs to allow for complex geometries and control wall thickness distribution with excellent parison control, enabling a better and easier design process. Not to mention, space constraints need to be consider when designing fuel tanks.
When considering the stringent emission norms, reduced space and lightweighting demands of these applications, DSM’s Akulon Fuel Lock PA6, a monolayer PA6 solution, is a great fit for not only passenger cars with ICE-based engines or hybrid EVs, but also for two-wheelers, lawn mowers, go karts and power generator equipment. Also, with evolving technologies, this material solution enables ease of processing and eliminating secondary operations, such as fluorination coatings while meeting the evaporative norms.
Akulon Fuel Lock PA6 supports injection molding and blow molding processing to make lighter, low permeation and monolayer fuel or gas tanks. With the fuel permeation rate being much lower with Akulon Fuel Lock, thinner wall design is possible, which enables reduced weight and processing cost compared to traditional materials. A reduced wall thickness is possible up to ~1.2 mm based on design criteria’s and permeation expectations of OEM (see picture).
Also, a monolayer technology involves less investment for a blow molding tool compared to a multilayer blow molding tool. The monolayer PA6 Akulon Fuel Lock solution has proven to have several advantages over various other materials being used traditionally. There is no need for costly stamping, forming, joining/welding or coating processes compared to metal or other plastics being used. Corrosion is also not a factor when engineered polymers are used.
Business Development Manager
10 June 2020
Business Development Manager
Amit Tolani is currently a business development manager at DSM Engineering Materials. He has 15 years of experience working closely with automotive OEM’s for introducing new technologies across the whole automotive value chain for powertrains and body design.
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