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Google Hangout: Catalyzing the Shift to Ultralight, Ultrastrong Autobodies

Our apologies for the abrupt endingdue to an error with Google's servers the Hangout stopped about five minutes early. If you missed it and would like to watch, you can see the conversation here.

Passenger vehicles dominate oil consumption in the United States, accounting for 49 percent of nationwide use, or some 8.8 million barrels per day. They contribute—sometimes in significant ways—to many problems associated with this commodity, including: exporting ~$1 billion petrodollars per day, climate change, geopolitical instability, smog, respiratory problems, and the widespread environmental impact arising from oil spills.

Those issues can be addressed by making passenger vehicles more efficient. The most direct design lever for reducing fuel consumption and improving efficiency (while preserving or even enhancing safety and performance) is to make vehicles lighter.

With its unparalleled stiffness, strength, and ability to absorb large amounts of energy, carbon fiber is an ideal candidate to allow transformative reductions (>50%) in vehicle weight. Catalyzing use of carbon fiber composite today can unlock a future of completely redesigned carbon-fiber-intensive vehicles, in turn enabling several future pathways for breakthrough efficiency.

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On Thursday, February 7 at 11:00 a.m. (MST) RMI held a Google Hangout to discuss the opportunities available today to enhance the use and adoption of carbon fiber composites in mainstream, high-volume vehicles to make them lighter, stronger, and safer.

The Discussion Covered:

  • Viable approaches for catalyzing high levels of carbon fiber adoption
  • How to fully harness the intrinsic properties of carbon fiber by maximizing weight savings while making optimal use of material
  • How step-change reductions in carbon fiber manufacturing costs can create an explosion in adoption rates
  • How to maximize cost-effective weight savings by fully harnessing carbon fiber's intrinsic properties while making optimal use of material

Hangout Participants Included:

  • Greg Rucks, RMI consultant
  • Josh Agenbroad, RMI analyst
  • Christophe Lanaud, advanced composites business leader for SABIC
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