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Lighter trucks with warm formed steel

Published: 16 May 2019

The electrification of heavy transport is one of the driving forces behind a new EU project coordinated by Luleå University of Technology in collaboration with, among others, Scania. The goal is to create a lightweight truck design using warm formed steel, which leads to more efficient transports since the trucks can take more load.

– Today's chassis design for trucks is based on a 120-year-old frame design. Now a completely new construction is needed that meets the needs of the future. With today's heavy-duty batteries for electric trucks, new lighter frame designs are required, which can also store and protect the batteries, says Mats Oldenburg, project leader for WarmLight and Professor of Solid Mechanics at Luleå University of Technology.

The frame construction for all types of trucks needs to be modernized to meet the increased demands for efficient sustainable transport in Europe. Lighter truck designs that can take more cargo reduce carbon dioxide emissions per kilo load along the roads for fuel-driven trucks. For electric trucks, new lighter frame designs are also required, due to heavy batteries. In order to find a possible way forward, the researchers in the EU project will investigate new high-performance, high-strength steels that are manufactured using warm forming.

– We will develop a new simulation-based methodology for developing new lighter chassis components for trucks. The methodology can be used to create complex optimized geometries with high-performance materials. This, unlike today, where many sub-components instead are joined in different ways, says Mats Oldenburg,

Learns from methods for press hardering

The research group in Solid Mechanics and at the Centre for High-performance Steel (CHS) at Luleå University of Technology have a long history of successful business partnerships, including the area of ​​press hardening. This is an advantage when similar methods are now being developed for warm forming. Warm forming means that less material is used compared to using ordinary steel, since it is possible to avoid a lot of joints and welding.

– When it comes to simulation technology and industrial applications for thermo-mechanical manufacturing processes, where the material is exposed to high temperatures and large deformations, we belong to the leading research groups in the world. For the global automotive industry, we have developed simulation tools that are currently used on an industrial scale to produce components and molding tools for press hardening. We can therefore transfer new results into industrial use very fast, as we can use existing platforms and further develop calculation programs that are already used by the industry, says Mats Oldenburg.

The project is coordinated by Luleå University of Technology and runs for 3.5 years. It is a EU project funded by RFCS, The Research Fund for Coal and Steel. The budget is just over EUR 1.15 million, of which Luleå University of Technology has approximately SEK 3 million. In addition to Luleå University of Technology, the consortium consists of Scania CV (Sweden), Eurecat Technology Center (Spain), voestalpine Stahl (Austria), CRF Centro Ricerche FIAT (Italy) and CONEX Concurrent Engineering Experts (Sweden).