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New materials for lighter cars

Currently, all material producers are seeking ways to help automakers reduce overall vehicle weight because lighter cars burn less fuel and produce fewer emissions.

The main goal of the DELIGHTED project is to gain fundamental understanding of the principles of microstructural design for engineering of perspective austenitic Fe–Al–Mn–C lightweight steels to reach the combination of mechanical and performance properties suitable for industrial applications.

The optimum thermo-mechanical processing route(s) will be developed for the selected grades. The main emphasis will be laid on the understanding kinetics of formation and growth of k-carbides, which play the key role in mechanical response and technological performance of these materials. The effect of microstructural features of the lightweight steels on technological properties (such as fracture toughness, fatigue resistance, weldability, etc.) will be analyzed.

A prototype of the mini-tractor cabin will be designed and produced using the developed lightweight steel for the critical parts, which have to undergo crash testing due to safety requirements. The crash test simulating the overturning of the mini-tractor will be performed. Mechanical department’s research group, headed by Prof. Carlo Mapelli, will design, coordinate and perform the production of the connections of the tractor cabin with the tractor frame. The connections will be produced using the developed steel, as these critical parts have to undergo the crash test for the safety of the drivers. The components will be produced by an industrial company focused on the production of agricultural vehicles. The developed steels are promising for applications also in aero-spatial applications.

The other partecipants to the research consortium are: Fundacion Imdea Materiales (Spain), Max Planck Institut Fur Eisenforschung (Germany), Onderzoekscentrum Voor Aanwending Van Staal (Belgium), Universiteit Gent (Belgium).