NanoSteel®, a leader in nanostructured steel materials, today announced the delivery of its first advanced high strength steel (AHSS) to General Motors for initial testing. Designed to provide automakers with a new standard in material performance, the sheet steel is poised to accelerate vehicle lightweighting initiatives focused on affordably meeting rising global fuel-economy regulations. Production of the material, targeted to the $100 billion-plus automotive steel market, is the result of a multi-year joint development program between NanoSteel and AK Steel Corporation—an industry-leading innovator in steel product development.
NanoSteel’s commercially produced automotive sheet steel overcomes the historical tradeoff between strength and formability by delivering exceptional levels of both properties at the same time (approximately 1200 MPa tensile strength and 50 percent elongation). The high strength allows designers to create parts utilizing thinner-gauge material (less weight) while the high elongation allows manufacturers to produce the newly designed parts without expensive processing techniques, employee retraining or additional capital costs. The unique combination of properties also allows engineers the design freedom to create novel part shapes, which further reduces weight.
“Many advanced materials with outstanding properties end up abandoned because they are too hard to use or too expensive to make,” said NanoSteel CEO and president David Paratore. “NanoSteel’s advanced high strength steel is designed to be both easy to produce—using conventional alloying elements with standard slab casting equipment; and easy to use—enabling the stamping and forming of parts at room temperature without additional manufacturing infrastructure or investment, such as that required for ‘hot’ stamped parts.”
NanoSteel is poised to meet the automotive industry’s performance target with AHSS designs that deliver both high strength and high ductility in cold formable steel. These unique performance capabilities will allow the use of thinner steel gauges and more complex geometry parts to maintain stiffness in the pursuit of lighter vehicles with better fuel economy.
NanoSteel’s AHSS enables the auto industry to continue to utilize steel’s existing infrastructure, scale and efficiencies versus switching to other lightweighting materials which may have higher costs, longer cycle times and limited availability.
The first applications of NanoSteel’s AHSS sheet designs will be to form structural parts in body-in-white (BIW) vehicle systems. The body-in-white (BIW) typically represents more than 20% of vehicle weight and stands to benefit more than any other automotive system from the weight reducing capabilities of NanoSteel’s new AHSS.
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations in the United States require improved fuel efficiency in future automobiles and light trucks every year through 2025. The miles per gallon (MPG) standard is progressively increasing at a rate of 5% per year averaged across all automobile models and 3.5% per year for light trucks culminating in a vehicle average of 54.5 MPG by 2025.
A 30% reduction in vehicle body-in-white (BIW) mass would represent an overall vehicle weight reduction of nearly 7%. With the add-on effects of compounded secondary weight savings, this would result in a total reduction of 13.5%. Based on an industry rule of thumb that for every 10% reduction in vehicle weight, there is an expected 7% increase in fuel economy, the compounded weight savings would then generate a 9.5% improvement in fuel economy. That is equivalent to nearly 3 MPG on a 30 MPG vehicle.
On average, steel is 2x stronger than aluminum, which is critical for parts that protect occupants during a crash.
Aluminum is between 2-3 times more expensive than steel on a per weight basis, meaning parts may weigh a little less but they will be more expensive.
The vast majority of automobile repair shops in the United States will need to add equipment and learn new skills to be able to work with aluminum.
SOURCES – Nanosteel, Green Car Congress