Passenger vehicle weight contributes to various factors, including carbon dioxide emissions, fuel consumption and overall automobile safety. It’s for these reasons that energy departments and environmental regulations are mandating that future vehicles, particularly passenger vehicles developed during 2020 and later, reduce their carbon dioxide output to 95g CO2/km.
Why the automobile industry is partnering with steel makers to meet guidelines
To meet these requirements, vehicle manufacturers are turning to steel makers, especially makers of high strength steel. Of note, high-strength and ultra-high strength steels like GigaPascal steels, materials that exceed 1,000 MegaPascals, reduce vehicle mass weight, a key reason automobiles push carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
These advanced steel materials are targeted for use in the design and build of electric and hybrid vehicle body structures. As many as 11 material grades have met MegaPascal strength, including dual-phase, twinning-induced plasticity and hot formed steels.
One way of producing GigaPascal strength steel is using: “Compositionally-graded steel composed of martensite with 0.4%C on the centre and bainite with 0.1%C on the surface,” says Cornell University Library, furthermore, “Quenched material can be cold rolled up to an equivalent strain of 1.5 without cracks.” These and other high strength steels reduce the percentage of mass weight a vehicle’s body makes up, lowering it from its conventional 40% level.
As automobile makers use GigaPascal strength steels, they can also reduce a passenger vehicle’s chassis frame weight below the current 25% level. Nissan Motor Company is already taking advantage of these new steel developments, rolling out its first “Ultra High Tensile Strength Steel rated at 1.2 gigapascals (GPa)” in 2013. These advanced steels reduce a vehicle’s body weight by as much as 15 kilograms.
Advantages gained from building with GigaPascal strength steels are multi-faceted. For example, the steel provides more elongation, formability and durability. Combined, these equal a safer driving experience. Furthermore, because fewer materials are required when using the advanced steels, it cost less to build automobiles per unit.
Additional uses for GigaPascal strength steels
Other products that are built with GigaPascal strength steels are elevators, steel buildings (i.e. storage centers), aircraft hangars, steel canopies, school buildings, gymnasiums, sports arenas, churches and retail stores. Because the advanced steel is moderately corrosion resistant, structures its used to build hold up beneath mild to harsh weather conditions like snow, rain and driving winds.
Furthermore, GigaPascal strength steel technologies surpass those found in steels made with conventional strengthening, materials made through direct-quench operation. As steel makers continue to develop more advanced materials, other options they are considering include adding boron for hot stamping as well as adding ferrite, retained austenite and martensite to chemicals to increase material hardening potential.
Sources: http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/NEWS/2011/_STORY/111005-01-e.html (Nissan Global)
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