The future of transportation is all set to be green, which means various alternatives need to be investigated to replac traditional gasoline vehicles. Another challenge is to make such alternatives lighter with improved strength for better efficiency, and at the same time, being able to mass produce them to meet the demand. The current industrial trends converge towards the development of electric vehicles, but proper infrastructure to charge the vehicles is just as important. TrioVision Composite Technologies, along with its partner companies Lush Motors and Windstrip, have come forward with an excellent solution using advanced composites to manufacture an electric vehicle and a vertical-axis wind turbine for a charging station.
Working in a green way is the need of the hour as the world is facing many challenges with global warming. TrioVision Composite Technologies, an Indian-based company with core competences in engineering, tooling, prototyping and manufacturing and which has been at the forefront of advanced composites, worked closely with Lush Motors and Windstrip to address these issues. Combining Lush Motors’ smart urban utility vehicle, Windstrip’s vertical-axis wind turbine charging station and Triovision’s composites knowledge, the project couldn’t be more accomplished.
Smart urban utility vehicle
Fig. 1- Smart urban utility vehicle by Lush Motors
Lush Motors is an Indian-based automotive company that focuses on the development of green-energy vehicles. People using two-wheelers for city commuting face challenges such as a harsh environment, pollution and health concerns with improper seating due to traffic congestions. To address the growing demand for vehicles specifically targeting city-based commuting, the company came up with the concept of a three-wheeler and two-seater electric vehicle. The unique design addresses these issues as the vehicle is compact in size and can run across any traffic, is totally enclosed with weather protection and has advanced features like a touch screen, app control and finger scanning options. The design was complex for a traditional metal approach and composites played a major role in quickly turning out the concept into a running model. All the vehicle parts are made of composites starting from the upper body, floor, dash, side mirrors and seats. The body uses an epoxy resin system with nano-based additives that provides excellent properties like reduced weight, high strength and good fire and smoke properties. Weight reduction is essential in the automotive segment to achieve fuel efficiency and, in turn, significantly reduce running costs.
TrioVision engineered this product in all aspects of design, electronics and software development and produced a running prototype that is now ready for serial manufacturing. The resin transfer moulding process was used, offering good finish on both sides. With the company’s innovative split tooling using an in-mould heating concept, the main body of the vehicle, which was a challenging component, was manufactured easily, paving the way for serial manufacturing with a high throughput. Traditional fillers were also a challenging issue during the filling process due to viscosity concerns, but the company’s filler system gave good results in terms of strength along with fire and smoke properties. The use of composites helped tremendously in increasing the overall space envelope inside the car, wheras the traditional approach was addressed with a reduced gap between the inner and outer shell to reduce the overall heat transfer. The vehicle also has a unique door mechanism wher the door is swivelled up across a pivot point to offer the best advantage of city commuting when the vehicle is parked in tight spaces. This was only possible through the use of engineered composites as the door weight is of utmost importance since the entire weight must swivel across an off-centric point wher an enormous load is applied on the motor that is trying to rotate. Thanks to the use of composite materials, the action is swift and precise.
“When the vehicle finally stood in front of us, we couldn’t believe our eyes that it was the same as the concept we thought of”, said Lush’s CEO.
Hybrid power system
Fig. 2- Windstrip’s vertical-axis wind turbine charging station
Windstrip is a US-based energy technology and solutions company primarily focused on low-kilowatt/decentralized renewable energy generation systems for wireless telecommunications, wi-fi mesh networks, electrical vehicle charging stations, security and surveillance, residential and commercial and other distributed hybrid power solutions markets. The company’s operations solely consist of activities directly related to the development and commercialization of its hybrid power system (HPS) solution and related products, such as the integrated PowerTower?, and various implementations of the HPS and Intelligent & Dynamic Energy Addressing system (IDEAs?), including electric vehicle charging stations and wi-fi mesh networks, as part of the Renewable Mesh? solution, and as the backbone in micro-grid energy solutions. Windstrip is working with TrioVision to commercialize and further develop its vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) based on the proprietary Savonius drag-driven Windstrip? wing system.
The main requirement for the VAWT is to be able to run at low wind speeds. This was only possible through the use of engineered composite materials to reduce weight and increase strength. The VAWT’s unique design makes it very efficient to capture energy at low wind speeds and generate good output. The blades are manufactured using resin transfer moulding with an epoxy-based system along with an in-mould heating system that can support serial manufacturing. Weight reduction was a challenging design aspect as the turbine can be exposed to sand storms and typhoons. Its low suitable material using TrioVision’s nano-filler technology. The overall reduced blade weight greatly influenced the design by giving the possibility to reduce the unit’s overall structure. Some of the applications for Windstrip’s HPS include automotive, agriculture, cell towers, micro grids, wi-fi mesh networks, residential & commercial buildings, security and surveillance markets.
Windstrip charging stations for EVs
The main challenge currently faced in the electric vehicle industry is the infrastructure required to use them widely. Windstrip’s unique hybrid power system is currently addressing these issues to provide 100% renewable charging stations to Lush Motors SUMV. These charging stations can be placed anywher even at remote locations, which promotes the usage of electric vehicles in not just city commuting but also to travel beyond cities. This will totally change the way the automotive segment operates, and eventually all gasoline stations, supermarket parking lots, corporate offices or private residences could convert to charging stations.
The use of composites is growing rapidly while many segments are trying to change their way of thinking to utilize the key benefits these materials can offer. Using them in both projects (Lush Motors for SUMV and Windstrip for VAWM) tremendously benefitted the end-product.
This article has been published in the JCM N°123, featuring Automotive.