More than £750,000 awarded to develop future low carbon vehicles

Three Loughborough University research projects have received a share of a £38m Government funding grant to design low carbon vehicles of the future.

Scientists and engineers in the University’s Wolfson School and Department of Chemistry will work with industry partners on a series of projects that address vehicle weight; battery materials and performance; and greener, better performing engines for heavy goods vehicles.

Engineers in the University’s Wolfson School Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab are working with Nottingham-based vehicle designer-manufacturer Far UK on a £250,000 project to develop high-spec, lightweight composite materials for car chassis.

The manufacturing method produces porous carbon fibre and glass fibre engineered composite beams and is said to produce less waste than traditional composite manufacturing methods. It also offers flexibility in the three dimensions, and requires minimal tooling for tailored structural beams, reducing costs. This approach could also benefit other transport sectors including heavy goods vehicles and rail.

“Reducing vehicle mass is essential for the automotive industry to help meet the Government’s carbon reduction targets,” said project leader Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez. “A typical family car would need to reduce its mass by about a quarter to achieve this, so the car industry needs to find a way to manufacture lightweights without adding production cost or affecting performance. We believe our composite structure and manufacturing protocols will provide a viable solution.”

A second project in the Wolfson School, led by Dr Andrew Clarke has received £420,000 funding to test duel fuel engines for heavy goods vehicles, with the aim of developing an engine that is high performing and reduces operating costs by 23%.

A further £160,000 funding has been awarded to the Department of Chemistry and sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey for a third project to develop the next generation of ‘green’ batteries.

Loughborough University is amongst more than 130 car manufacturers, technology companies and research centres across the country to have won a share of the money, announced in the Budget, which will create hi-tech jobs and help Britain become a global leader in exporting state of the art, emission-cutting technology.