The Mondragon Unibersitatea (University of Mondragon, Spain) is currently leading a development project focusing on reducing car weight. It's estimated that reducing by 10 percent the weight of a car saves 7 percent of fuel at the pump. This project, called Automotive Lightweighting Materials is currently financed by 17 development centres and companies from different European countries. It's not news that reducing weight reduces pollution but what are the means MU will use to achieve this?
Current findings for this project are two new techniques that reduce weight while keeping material resistance. First, by optimising the manufacturing process of so-called "advanced high-resistance" steel, they can be from 15 to 25 lighter (it wasn't explained how the process works). Secondly, carbon composites, already used in high-end vehicles, can save from 25 to 70 percent. Speaking about the latter, research is focused on finding cheap carbon fibers, by means of researching nanoparticle-reinforced polymers and smart materials able to retain all mechanic properties at at least half of the cost of current carbon composites. Other aspects in which research is focused are the own structure of vehicles, in order to improve resistance with lower weight, increase security, material fatigue as well as the road comfort.

However, MU is also taking into consideration the ways a car can be disassembled for repairs and recycling once the vehicle is no longer needed.

[Source: Diario Vasco (link is in Spanish)]

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