Vehicle Construction, Polymers and Materials Science

The research area is dedicated to future automotive engineering. Key aspects include sustainability and reduction of CO₂ emissions. Equally important topics are weight-reducing structures, the increased use of natural fibre-reinforced composites (biopolymers), composite and conceptual lightweight construction, recycling as well as simulations based on the finite element method (FEM).

 

The following are actively engaged in the research area:

  • Faculty of Automotive Engineering
  • Faculty of Computer Science/IT
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

 

Researchers give an insight into their work

In interviews, the researchers present the research area and one of their research projects.

 

Vehicle Construction, Polymers and Materials Science - Prof. Müller and Prof. Schmiemann

Prof. Müller and Prof. Schmiemann in dialogue about the research area

"The proximity to application makes us strong"

A modern car would be unthinkable without plastics. This is why the professors Martin Müller and Achim Schmiemann, both from the Faculty of Automotive Engineering, make a good team. In this interview they talk about the research area Vehicle Construction, Polymers and Materials Science and their collaboration. And they explain how industry benefits from their research.

 


Professor Müller, Professor Schmiemann, what do you work on in the research area Vehicle Construction, Polymers and Materials Science?

Martin Müller: To a large extent on the current issues in the automotive industry. How can we increase resource efficiency? How can we lower energy consumption and CO2 emissions? How can we use simulations to support vehicle construction even better? Important topics are lightweight construction, aerodynamics, drive technology and also vehicle safety. In the future we will be able to move more or less freely in the vehicle, a development that requires completely new restraint systems for occupant protection. Autonomous driving and digitisation will change a lot of things – thus there is a lot of work to do.

Achim Schmiemann: I’m from the material sciences and deal with the issue of sustainability, in particular with the recycling of plastics. Since the component parts for vehicles have to be increasingly sustainable, our research is very important. It concerns not only the car but outreaches far beyond. We also deal with the pollution of rivers and seas with plastic particles. We have a very good analysis to investigate samples and determine the source of the pollution.

 


How can we picture the collaboration in your team?

Achim Schmiemann: There are many points of contact. We have just filed a proposal to research light-weight roof constructions made of plastic. The companies have a great interest in this. The fact that they are participating with not inconsiderable sums shows the potential of the cooperation. The companies hope to gain an economic advantage with our research.

Martin Müller: Lightweight construction is a fundamental research topic for us. With the right combination of plastics, metals and hybrid structures we can accomplish a great deal. Also battery research, where increasing energy density is an essential factor, plays a major role for us. In addition, there are numerous small issues we’re involved in.

 


In the automotive industry hybrid lightweight construction makes many things possible. What are you working on?

Achim Schmiemann: In the future, we will be able to enrich structures with carbon fibers in vehicle construction in order to achieve high stability. We are investigating how we can get the carbon fibers out of these lightweight structures at the end of their life cycle and what we can do with them in their second life.

Martin Müller: Several steps before this, the concern is how we can combine the materials best. It is our job to describe the hybrid structures with simulation technology – such as the optimum geometry of structures, the fiber content, and the orientation of the fibers.

 


Which resources are available to you to research new vehicle concepts?

Martin Müller: There are a lot. In our wind tunnel we can measure the resistance and propulsion of the vehicle – with the aim of reducing consumption and improving the driving dynamics. We also use the wind tunnel in teaching. This gives our students a better understanding of the parameters affecting the vehicle.


What else is available to you?

Martin Müller: We have a drop tower in order to simulate crashes. Simply explained: There is a component at the bottom and a mass comes flying down from above that is up to 500 kilograms. We can measure the deformation and find out how large the risk of injury is in the interior. Also, optical measurement technology provides us with many ways to describe thermal or mechanical stress.

 


How do you benefit from your research area?

Martin Müller: The proximity to application makes us strong. We research not just to let our results end up in the bottom drawer, but to be put into series production. This ambition is reflected in our teaching. When our graduates go into industry, they have an excellent understanding of what is important in vehicle development. The application-oriented research is a big plus point of Ostfalia. We are working directly on the product: concrete components.

Achim Schmiemann: For example, we have managed to re-invent thermoplastic foam injection moulding. Together with the Volkswagen company research we developed and patented this procedure. With this special procedure, components are produced serially.

Martin Müller: In a project we made it possible to reduce sheet metal thicknesses and compensate for the loss of stiffness with lightweight materials. In this way we saved several kilos and costs.

 


Why do you like your work?

Martin Müller: In research I have a lot of freedom. Yes, I must fight for my ideas, but I can change a lot. I also like working with the students: although I’m getting older, the students always remain young. So working with them is very refreshing.

Achim Schmiemann: I can only agree with that. We work on exciting projects. Including the 3D4Space project in which we conduct space research together with colleagues from the Technical University of Braunschweig. Our task: How can we recycle things that are manufactured with 3D-printing processes on the moon or Mars? I never would have thought that I would land up in this research area – even though I will probably never take a business trip to the moon.

 

 

Vehicle Construction, Polymers and Materials Science - Prof. Bachem

Prof. Bachem talks about the research project MesoKKo

Flying high in lightweight construction

Lightweight construction plays a crucial role in the aerospace industry: The less an aircraft weighs, the lower the fuel consumption. This saves money and is good for the environment. Therefore, Ostfalia wants to combine two materials to create a new one. Its properties: low weight, high stability.

This carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic is to be used in the interior of aircraft. Here it is exposed to large forces during the flight. Hence the results of the large-scale scientific study of the researchers are all the more important: It examines where in the material several thousands of millimeter-thin carbon fibers are placed best in order to achieve a high level of stiffness. And how the perfect geometry of the component looks like.

The researchers are not only forming a new plastic, they are also refining the computer-aided design of components made of this material. The materials are combined in a hot pressing process (sheet molding compound; SMC) under the influence of pressure and heat. Ostfalia wants to prepare the SMC-technology for serial production of components in the aviation industry – with short process times and high process reliability.

The manufacturing partner in the MesoKKo Project is the ACE Advanced Composite Engineering GmbH, associated partner is Airbus SE. The project is funded by the Central SME Innovation Programme (ZIM) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

 

Prof. Dr. Harald Bachem, Institute for Automotive Engineering at Ostfalia:

"For the aviation industry the issue of lightweight construction is of great importance. We are working on a fiber-reinforced composite part that meets the special requirements of materials in aircraft. In addition to the weight, we are also looking at the production processes in order to be able to fully exploit the potential of the material."

 

Dr. Carlo Sigolotto, ACE Advanced Composite Engineering GmbH:

"As a supplier for the aircraft industry we have produced many components used in aircraft. Our goal is to add another component to this in cooperation with Ostfalia. The project is a win-win situation: Ostfalia benefits from our experiences in this particular industry; and we benefit from the great commitment of the researchers."

 

ZIM gefördert durch BMWi

to top
Print