Over the past decades, light-weight vehicles, e.g. electric cars, have been widely advocated in an effort to reduce energy usage and be more environmentally friendly. This emphasis on weight reduction has led to significant deterioration in the energy dissipation capabilities. As such, crashworthiness enhancement has once again become a critical issue. However, the design based on conventional structures is becoming more difficult, and the employment of high-strength materials much costlier. In order to achieve light weight, a large safety margin and low cost, a high-performance energy absorption component utilising both material enhancement and structural design optimization in the energy absorber design is developed.
Since most light-weight structures involve thin-walled frames, Surface Mechanical Attrition Treatment (SMAT) was used to induce nanocrystalline structures in steel for strength enhancement without sacrificing ductility. Structural optimization of the energy absorber was also carried out through extensive experiments and numerical simulations. The final product is lighter and has high-safety impact levels compared to similar products on the present market. In addition, a SMAT treatment prototype machine has also been developed for product fabrication.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
The proposed technology combines the following features:
- An implementation of both material enhancement and structure optimization in the design of the energy absorber in automobiles to achieve light weight, large safety margin and low cost:
- SMAT treatment was utilised to enhance the material properties
- Numerical simulations and empirical studies were carried out for development of the crash box structure design
Potential applications (but not limited to) are:
- Crash boxes for electric vehicles, light weight vehicles and limousines
- Crash boxes for battery packs
- Any transportation systems that requires energy absorption safety features
Potential adopters will be the companies designing and fabricating critical parts related to the crashworthiness of the transportation systems, e.g. automotive parts OEMs.
The developed technology has the following advantages:
- Higher safety level
- Lower initial peak force
- High energy absorbing ability
- Steady reaction force distribution
- Light weight
- Economical manufacturing cost compared to similar products on the market.