Automotive weight saving solutions

Leverkusen/Shanghai – Polyamides are versatile materials applied to modern automobiles, where they are used in electronic systems, air and fluid lines, and weight-saving bodywork components.  Compared with steel sheet or die cast aluminum, polyamides provide tremendous opportunities for reducing weight in the production of automotive.  This is demonstrated by the 1.8 and 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines used in the Audi A3, A4 and A6 as well as in the Volkswagen Passat for example. Their engine oil pans are made of Durethan AKV 35 H2.0, a polyamide 66 from LANXESS, and weigh roughly one kilogram less than a steel component solution. They are around 50 percent lighter than an oil pan made of aluminum.


“Not only do weight savings of this magnitude appreciably reduce the vehicles’ fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, they also improve the handling because this weight is saved in the area of the front axle,” said Frank Krause, an expert for oil-bearing polyamide engine parts at LANXESS. The oil pans are manufactured by POLYTEC PLASTICS Germany GmbH & Co KG based in Lohne, Germany.


There is a general trend toward compact engines with increasingly smaller and more complex installation spaces. This results in oil pans with geometries that could only be produced with great effort in steel sheet. With deep parts, in particular, steel bumps up against its limits due to the unfavorable draw ratios. Polyamide can shine in these cases with great design freedom. In addition to the potential weight savings, its primary advantage over aluminum is that it can be used to produce ready-to-assemble injection-molded parts. Oil pans made of die cast aluminum, on the other hand, must undergo post-molding treatment, such as deburring or machining of the flanges to make them plane. This work quickly adds up to a large portion of the production costs.


Additionally, LANXESS has developed a new high-tech Durethan polyamide 6 for manufacturing lighter, less expensive tanks for cars that run on natural gas. Ultra-strong at extremely low temperatures, this thermoplastic is ideal for the extrusion blow molding of inliners for these high-pressure vessels. The inliners are wrapped in thermosets reinforced with continuous fibers.


“The result is a plastic tank that weighs only one-fourth as much as a solid steel tank, meaning it reduces total vehicle weight by up to seven percent. This in turn significantly reduces a natural gas vehicle’s CO2 emissions, improving even further its already superior emissions profile compared to gasoline and diesel engines,” explains Maik Schulte, polyamide tank specialist at LANXESS.


Based on the new material, Xperion Energy & Environment GmbH in Kassel, Germany, has developed a natural gas tank system that a German auto manufacturer is planning to install in production vehicles in the future.


LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.8 billion in 2011 and currently around 16,900 employees in 31 countries. The company is at present represented at 49 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.


Forward-Looking Statements
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by LANXESS AG management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to confirm them to future events or developments.


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