Wednesday, 10 June 2015
Ricardo to support Detroit Materials
Chassis brackets for Class 8 trucks could be the first area of joint development by Ricardo which has teamed up with Detroit Materials Inc. to help the start-up US company commercialise its products into the automotive sector.
Detroit Materials is a start-up firm focused on the commercialization of ultra-high performance structural materials. The company recently won an SAE award for its ultra-high strength castable low-alloy steel to support vehicle light-weighting initiatives.
The market interest for affordable light-weighting of vehicle structures is high, due to both light duty fuel economy mandates and forthcoming freight efficiency rules for medium and heavy duty trucks.
Detroit Materials claims it has developed the strongest castable low-alloy steel in the market. This advanced steel offers a combination of strength, toughness, hardness and elongation currently only available using highly alloyed and costly exotic steels.
The company’s nano-structured ultra high-strength steel provides the ability to produce thin walled castings for demanding applications, offering the best-in-class performance per dollar as compared to titanium, aluminium, ultra-high strength steel, carbon fibre and other emerging advanced high strength steels.
The material has the potential to support a variety of lightweight structural applications in the passenger vehicle, truck, defence, off-highway, and transportation industries.
With the support of Ricardo Strategic Consulting, Detroit Materials will initially focus on lower barrier to entry markets, such as chassis brackets for the Class 8 truck market, where the cast steel offers up to 58 percent weight savings – translated to the entire US Class 8 fleet this would deliver a potential fuel savings of over 80 million gallons (303 million litres) of diesel a year.
As Class 8 trucks account for 15 per cent of transportation energy consumption, this curb vehicle weight improvement will provide a potential savings per vehicle of over 1,500 gallons (5,678 litres) of fuel and 18 tons (US) (16.3 tonnes) of CO2e annually.
This technology will support manufacturers’ immediate needs to meet 2017 GHG emission and fuel consumption standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles.
Ricardo Strategic Consulting is working with Detroit Materials also to assess market opportunities and best entry points based on the cast steel’s competitive position. Detroit Materials and Ricardo are also assessing automotive component manufacturing costs to identify and resolve market entry barriers for new suppliers to low and high annual volume vehicles.
Last year, Detroit Materials Inc. of Wixom, Michigan and a Wayne State University spin-off, received an investment of $250,000 from the Detroit Innovation Fund as well as a $150,000 small business grant to develop high-strength material technology.