Thursday, November 8, 2012

Automobiles, Composites and CO2 Emissions

It is great to work on composites, the work on composites is still in nascent stage, lot to learn, lot to explore; this is what makes Composites a challenging career field!  Recently during my composite manufacturing trials, I came across few facts. The research on composites is on a full blow, lot of work is going and in many directions, but the work has just begun and it’s still a long way to go to industrialize the research on composites to be used in automobiles.  The selection of materials, process and properties suiting a particular application is to be identified and established and then commercializing the process parameters to the large scale production is another big job as due to strict and specific property requirements for composites. Fuel efficiency, performance characteristics and environmental load, all these together makes the research problem more critical.

It is to be noted that the problem of climatic change is one of the most serious consequence of the emissions of large quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in atmosphere. Automobiles and transport sector contributes about 25% of all the CO2 released in atmosphere. Composites are the substitutes for heavy weight metals due to their Weight and strength advantages. Also it is found that an average European car contains 20 Kgs of textile and fiber materials into it, these also have got some scope of weight reduction or substitute for other non-textile material.

European Union announced a comprehensive legal framework to tackle reduction of CO2 emissions. According to me the rules in the framework requires a great deal of courage and determination. It says Reduction of CO2 emissions in grams per kilometer of running vehicle from 160 g/Km in 2010 to 130 g/Km in 2015 and to 95g/Km in 2020. CO2 labeling of a car is to be established, so that the customer should get to know the fuel efficiency and the CO2 emission of the car along with its price during buying. The third and the best part was involving the stake holders to do their best by providing incentives and penalties if required. As of now they say the manufacturer would be charged between 5 Euros to 95 Euros for per g/Km of extra CO2 released. And some form of taxes would also be collected by the vehicle owner depending on the CO2 emission from his car. This is phenomenal!

To achieve this task researchers in all fields of automotive division are working on various aspects. And the most promising field in the CO2 emission reduction is attributed to use of Composites which replaces metals. Hence comes the role of textile and polymer engineers along with mechanical and simulation experts to make trials, develop and confirm a product qualifying safety and performance standards. Hence as of now millions of euros are spent and still spending on composites research, as they say it is just beginning.

-  India’s Case:

  • It is still a long-long way for India to explore the composites field, many predicts the scope of composites if far wider in India and it can also be seen that though late but the work on composites Is progressing day by day.
  • In the developed countries the CO2 emissions are reducing while in India the facts are opposite as suggested by a research by CSE (Center of Science and Environment). It states that post 2000 petrol cars with less than 1400cc engines had CO2 emission of 143 g/Km, while cars manufactured after 2005 have emissions of 173 grams of CO2 per Km. The same trend is also observed for diesel engines where post 2000 the values of CO2 emission was 129 g/Km and post 2005 the value is 149 g/Km. Where are we heading is a serious question on our part!
  • Energy policy in India estimates that if 50% improvement in fuel efficiency can save 8.63 cr tons of fuel by 2030 and the CO2 emission reduction which is equal to removing 70 lakh of todays 4 wheeler vehicles.


Anonymous said...

This is good. I mean not about this post but coming forward to write about the textile industry in your blog. Good initiative. Would love to see a lot of it coming. All the best.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ashok,

Do you think that heavy weight of automobiles is one of the factor which contribute pollution in environment??

Rahul gupta
NIFT, India

Sathis Kumar said...

@Rahul Gupta:

Yes your statement is correct. Heavy weight of automobiles is one of the factors for the environmental pollution indirectly. The science behind is simple. One needs more energy to move a heavy stuff. (Again there comes an argument of inertia). Therefore one way to reduce the energy (fuel) requirement is to reduce the weight.