Covestro, GAC develop seat back with ?sustainable? materials

Covestro has partnered with the research and development centre of Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd to develop a lightweight composite seat back for the Chinese car manufacturer's latest electric concept car, the ENO.146.
The vehicle, which made its debut in China last November, is claimed to be “one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles in the world”, thanks to a drag coefficient of only 0.146 and an NEDC (new European driving cycle) range of 1,000 kilometres. 
To achieve the performance goals, amongst others, GAC R&D centre used lightweight and sustainable materials to reduce the weight of the car.
Covestro’s Maezio-branded continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites were among those materials.
The backrests of the two front seats of the concept car are made of Maezio CFRTP, which is estimated to cut 50% of the weight of the structure compared to typical metal constructions.
“Seats in the passenger compartment are an ideal target for weight savings, as they are among the heaviest parts there,” explained Lisa Ketelsen, head of Covestro's thermoplastic composites business.
While generally fibre reinforced composites are the ideal material for lightweight automotive construction, Covestro claims Maezio can further simplify moulding and streamline the manufacturing process.
In the case of a seat with a metal backrest, fittings and other attachments add to the complexity of production and assembly.
As the Covestro composite is a thermoplastic material, parts and functions can be consolidated by injection moulding processing. Incorporating functional structures into the mould for shaping the backrest can help reduce the number of parts and materials.
Inspired by nature, from the CMF (colour, material, finish) perspective, the design of ENO.146 required the backrests to have “a natural look and feel and high aesthetic value”, while being recyclable.
Maezio, according to Covestro could deliver that.
The thermoplastic composite can be cut and shaped at will to be reused at the end of its service life, giving it a marble-like appearance and a high-quality look and feel.
This, said Covestro, makes the composite a “sustainable material choice that fits perfectly into the design concept of the vehicle.”

» Publication Date: 14/01/2020

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This project has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 745828