The global drive to reduce CO2 emissions and efficiently use natural resources makes lightweighting a critical concept. A 10% reduction in vehicle weight can result in a 6-8% fuel economy improvement. Alternatives to conventional materials include composites that offer enhanced durability and lower maintenance costs, or specialty adhesives that join materials with different chemical compositions. There is also a wide variety of customized and modular products, made possible by novel machining capabilities such as additive manufacturing.
CAGR growth in composites in Automotive in next 10 years1
Growth of composites in offshore oil pipes/risers2
Challenges for customers
The main challenges beyond lightweighting are maintenance and repair, sustainability/recycling, crash simulation/mechanical resistance, cost reduction and faster production cycle.
Opportunities for Solvay
Solvay innovations put us in a strong position to offer our customers lightweighting solutions.
- Our high-performance polymers improve aerospace engine efficiency and downsizing.
- Our solutions for aerospace structures are world-leading, with thermoset composites that offer unique benefits in aerodynamics, design, part integration and corrosion resistance.
- With the broadest specialty polymers portfolio and in-depth expertise in composite material technologies, we are the leader in thermoplastic composites (TPC) for the aerospace & automotive industries. In 2020 we saw a growing demand for our TPC solutions in markets such as oil and gas and Urban Air Mobility.
Innovating with our customers to create tailor-made thermoplastic composites
To meet the challenges facing the industry, and to enable faster development in thermoplastic composites, Solvay opened new dedicated innovation centers, in Brussels (Belgium) and Alpharetta (USA). They offer state-of-the-art assets and capabilities to support customers in the early-stage design, prototyping and testing of parts; this dramatically reduces the time-to-market of our materials. Solvay’s center in Brussels will host part of the new Joint Lab recently created with Leonardo to develop novel composite materials and production processes critical for the future of the aerospace industry. This collaboration will strengthen our leadership position as supplier of innovative composite materials for aerospace and other markets.
Sources: 1: Roland Berger, 2: UBS Global Research – October 8, 2019