Energy efficient aerospace and automotive structures

Lightweight structures and materials for energy efficient vehicles

This area employs advanced numerical and experimental characterisation techniques to investigate lightweight materials and structures with the aim of improving both the energy efficiency and safety of ground and air vehicles.

Previous projects include the processing and properties of highly oriented thermoplastics such as silane-crosslinked polyethylene and wood fibre polypropylene composites, designed to reduce both weight and cost. Other projects include the design and analysis of carbon-fibre reinforced honeycomb sandwich panels and the optimisation of stacking sequence for aircraft composite structures.

Another major area of interest is the investigation of brakes and drivetrain components that are lightweight, energy efficient and designed to minimise the environmental impact of vehicles in terms of noise, vibration and damage to the carriageway.

Lightweight brake rotors are a topic of on-going investigation since they can significantly reduce the upsprung mass of the vehicle. In this context, aluminium metal matrix composites, carbon fibre ceramic composites and coated rotors have all been considered both experimentally and analytically at Leeds.

Current projects are investigating carbon-carbon composite clutches and light alloy brake rotors with a temperature resistant rubbing surface. Analysis of brake squeal and judder is another area of expertise, especially modelling techniques to take account of thermal deformations on the properties of a disc brake to squeal which is a considerable environmental nuisance.

Experimental facilities include both small and large-scale brake dynamometers, a clutch test rig, state-of-art materials characterisation facilities, a large drop test rig, and advanced computer codes (ABAQUS, RADIOSS, LS-DYNA). Industrial collaborators have included Federal Mogul, Toyota, TMD Friction, Simpact Engineering, Micropol, QinetiQ, Altair Engineering and Bridon International.

For more information contact: Professor David Barton or Dr Peter Brooks