Lightweight polymer trucks? You bet, CSIRO says

Government research body sets goal of developing super-strong lightweight polymer materials for road and rail transport

January 14, 2010

Lighter trucks made of polymer materials capable of slashing emissions and fuel costs could soon be a reality.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has set itself the goal of producing a new generation of the polymer composite materials to use in aircrafts, road vehicles, trains and ferries.

The CSIRO says a new generation of aircraft being developed are already using polymer composites for fuselage and other components to save fuel and cut emissions.

Dr Stuart Bateman of the CSIRO’s science and engineering division is leading the team responsible for designing and testing composites to supersede materials currently used in transport.

The CSIRO says special additives are added to the polymer matrix to produce polymers with unprecedented strength, stiffness, impact resistance, fire resistance and heat reflectance.

"Composites with improved mechanical properties allow greater design flexibility, and the down-gauging of wall thickness for additional weight savings," Bateman says.

"We use nano-technologies to improve the mechanical performance of conventional composite materials and at the same time introduce valuable functional properties previously not possible in composites."

Bateman says the CSIRO will work with manufacturers interested in using the research agency’s findings to produce their own applications.

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