Tokyo Motor Show 2019: NCV (Nano Cellulose Vehicle) project

Concept Car made of Cellulose Nanofiber (CNF) Components

2019/11/29

Summary

 The Ministry of the Environment launched the Nano Cellulose Vehicle (NCV) project on October 26, 2016 with the objective of utilizing cellulose nanofibers (CNF), a next-generation material, to reduce the weight of automotive components by roughly 10% in 2020. Lead by Kyoto University, the consortium is comprised of 22 entities including universities, research institutions, and companies, which through the completion of this project were able to realize a comprehensive end-to-end supply chain structure for this new material.


 The culmination of this project was the unveiling of the concept car, featuring numerous components made with CNF, at the Tokyo Motor Show 2019. This report provides an overview of the NCV concept car as well as the components made using materials with cellulose nanofiber.

NCVコンセプトカーの展示 NCV搭載部品の展示
NCV concept car on display NCV Components on display

 

NCV Project participating institutions

 Kyoto University, Kyoto Municipal Institute of Industrial Technology and Culture, Ube Industries, Showa Marutsutsu, Showa Products, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Risho Kogyo, Akita Prefectural University, Inoac Corporation, Kyoraku, DaikyoNishikawa, Sanwa Kako, Maxell, Aisin Seiki, Denso, Toyota Boshoku, Toyota Motor East Japan, Kanazawa Institute of Technology, Toyota Customizing & Development, The University of Tokyo, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Sustainable Management Promotion Organization


Related reports:
Tokyo Motor Show 2019: Plastics related components (Nov. 2019)

 



NCV concept car

 The NCV concept car was showcased at the center of the Ministry of the Environment booth. On display in the surrounding corners of the booth were the various components made with CNF that are installed on the vehicle and accompanying description panels. The explanation panel gave an overview of the NCV project, providing a detailed description of the raw material, cellulose, as well as the flow of the CNF manufacturing process, and an explanation of the concept car, which was a representative example of the material’s application in the automotive industry. The bottom of the panel identified the numerous universities, companies, and research institutions that participated in the project.

NCV試作車の展示 NCVプロジェクト説明パネル
NCV prototype car display was displayed on floor made of wood chips, the raw material of CNF NCV project explanation panel

 

NCV試作車の内装 NCVの搭載部品
Interior of the NCV prototype The panel shows details such as the composite ratio of the primary plastics and CNF used in making the major components featured in the NCV, fabrication methods, and the consortium members responsible for each project.

(Photographed by reporter, the same hereinafter)

 

 The next section briefly describes, by material, the major components installed on the NCV concept car.

・Door trim (Toyota Boshoku)
・Roof panel (Toyota Motor East Japan)
・Front Hood (Risho Kogyo)
・Rear spoiler (Kyoraku)
・Front under cover (Kyoraku)
・Package tray front cover (Inoac Corporation)
・Wheel fins (Kyoto University)
・Roof side rail (Showa Marutsutsu/Showa Products)
・Floor materials (Kanazawa Institute of Technology)
・Engine hood (Kanazawa Institute of Technology)
・Battery carrier (Toyota Auto Body)
・Instrument panel, lift gate (DaikyoNishikawa)
・Air conditioner casing (Denso)
・Intake manifold (Aisin Seiki)
・Seat cushion (Sanwa Kako)
・Chrome parts (Maxell)

 



Components featured in the NCV

Door trim (Toyota Boshoku)

ドアトリム
Door trim

 The material is a composite made of polypropylene (PP) and 10% CNF, molded via injection molding.

Objectives:
 1) Performance, productivity, and cost equivalent to conventional door trims
 2) Weight reduction of 15% or more

Technical challenges:
 1) Cracking in the event of a collision
 2) Measures to improve impact strength

In the future:
 1) Improve long-term durability
 2) Need to confirm continuous production process using injection molding

 

Roof panel (Toyota Motor East Japan)

ルーフパネル
Roof panel
Display panel: Roof panel

 Toyota Motor East Japan was responsible for this component project, with cooperation from Oji Holdings. The material is a composite made of polycarbonate (PC) and 15% CNF, formed via injection compression molding.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 50% inorganic glass, 20% resin glass
 2) Maintain productivity and quality equivalent to conventional products.

Technical challenges:
 1) Durability
 2) Cost

In the future: Ensure market-appropriate quality, evaluate durability, and reduce material costs.

 

Front Hood (Risho Kogyo)

ボンネット
Front Hood

 Risho Kogyo was responsible for this component project, using a 100% CNF honeycomb core jointly developed with Nagoya Institute of Technology and Akita Prefectural University. Molded via vacuum bagging.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction (target): 50% or more
 2) Rigidity (target): Double (compared to steel)
 3) Improved performances such as better aesthetics, thermal insulation, and NVH

Technical challenges:
 1) Benefits of weight reduction offset by lower quality
 2) Challenges such as a significant reduction in molding time, ease-of-painting, electromagnetic shielding, long-term durability, water resistance, and flammability.

In the future:
 1) Evaluate necessary quality
 2) Consider reducing molding time significantly
 3) Evaluate properties such as thermal insulation and NVH
 4) Consider reducing costs through integrated molding

 

Rear spoiler (Kyoraku)

リアスポイラー
Rear spoiler

 The component is a composite of PP and 10% CNF, formed via blow molding. The rear spoiler is a hollow and lightweight product with CNF added to increase rigidity.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 10% or higher
 2) Maintaining equivalent levels of manufacturability, quality, and cost as conventional products

Technical challenges:
 1) Odor given off during molding or when part is burned
 2) CNF dispersion is inferior

In the future:
 1) Evaluate necessary quality and confirm the effects of weight reduction
 2) Investigate sound absorption characteristics
 3) Recognize importance of technical challenges (e.g. water absorption, flammability, odor, VOC)
 4) Roughly estimate cost, etc.

 

Front under cover (Kyoraku)

フロントアンダーカバー
Front under cover

 Composite material made of of PP and 10% CNF, and formed via blow molding. The component is hollow and lightweight, so CNF was added to increase rigidity.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 10% or more
 2) Able to be manufacture using conventional equipment, so quality and cost are the same as conventional products

Technical challenges:
 1) Odor given off during molding or when the part is burned
 2) CNF dispersion is inferior

In the future:
 1) Evaluate necessary quality and confirm the effects of weight reduction
 2) Investigate sound absorption characteristics
 3) Recognize importance of technical challenges (e.g. water absorption, flammability, odor, VOC)
 4) Roughly estimate cost, etc.

 

Package tray front cover (Inoac Corporation)

パケトレフロントカバー
Package tray front cover

 The package tray front cover is made of a composite material of PP and 10% CNF. It is formed using injection and foam molding. CNF has been added to improve rigidity.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 20% or more
 2) Manufacturability: Equal to conventional products
 3) Quality: Securing shock resistance as an interior trim component
 4) VOC (particularly acetaldehyde): Within standards
 5) Cost: 50% CNF master batch price of JPY550/kg or less

Technical challenges:
 1) VOC (volatile organic compound) measures required
 2) CNF dispersibility when using high-concentration master batch

In the future: Trial test with master batch material as VOC countermeasure and verify minimizing concerns

 

Wheel fins (Kyoto University)

ホイールフィン
Wheel fins

 Kyoto University was responsible for this component project, jointly developed with the Nagoya Institute of Technology. The material is a composite of polyamide 6 (PA6) and 10% CNF, formed via laminate molding using a 3D printer. Because the material does not require a mold, it can be used to create complexly shaped components that would be impossible to make with injection molding.

Objectives:
 1) Reduce weight by 10% or more over injection molded products
 2) While the material is not suitable for components that require a high degree of manufacturability, it can be used to improve the production efficiency of small components (such as wheel fin inserts)
 3) Quality: Equal to injection molded components

Technical challenges: Dimensional changes over time

In the future:
 1) Increase molding speed through resin improvements
 2) Study applications of CNF and biomaterials討
 3) Improve surface smoothness by controlling particle size distribution

 

Roof side rail (Showa Marutsutsu/Showa Products)

ルーフサイドレール
Roof side rail

 Showa Marutsutsu and Showa Products were responsible for the roof side rail component project, jointly developing the material with the Nagoya Institute of Technology and Akita Prefectural University. The core and hollow members of the product is made of CNF sheets and aluminum. The component was formed via sheet winding.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction rate (vs. steel): 30% or more
 2) Manufacturability: Equal to or better than CFRP products
 3) Quality: Equal to conventional products (steel)br />  4) Cost: Equal to or less than CFRP products

Technical challenges:
 1) Benefits of weight reduction offset due to lower quality (water absorption)
 2) Ensure manufacturability (continuous production)
 3) Shapes other than straight lines, such as curves

In the future:
 1) Quantification of the effects of weight reduction
 2) Examination of winding time and workability
 3) Confirmation of the importance of concerns (water resistance, etc.)
 4) Confirm processing costs for thin aluminum, etc.

 

Floor materials (Kanazawa Institute of Technology)

フロア部材
Floor materials
Display panel: Floor materials

 The Kanazawa Institute of Technology was responsible for this component project jointly developed with Toyota Customizing & Development. The component was manufactured using CNF paper and epoxy resin, which was molded via VaRTM (vacuum assisted resin transfer molding) low pressure molding. The purpose of the project was to determine the possibility of using CNF to mold large lightweight structural parts.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction (vs. steel): 50% or more
 2) Manufacturability: Mold residence time of an hour or more. Large integrated molding possible
 3) Quality: Study only with regards to molding (consider material compositions that leverage the material properties) 
 4) Cost (vs. steel products): Equal to or less

Technical challenges:
 1) Basic component characteristics unevaluated (e.g. rigidity, side impact performance)
 2) Significant reduction in molding time
 3) Evaluations considering material characteristics

In the future:
 1) Pursue further possibilities to use for large integrated molding
 2) Improve moldability
 3) Conduct detailed evaluation of other benefits besides weight reduction (e.g. thermal insulation, NVH)
 4) Confirm the importance of concerns (water resistance, etc.)
 5) Evaluate waterproof paintability, etc.

 

Engine hood (Kanazawa Institute of Technology)

エンジンフード
Engine hood

 The Kanazawa Institute of Technology was responsible for the development of the engine hood project, jointly developed with Toyota Customizing & Development. The component was manufactured using CNF paper and epoxy resin, which was molded via VaRTM low pressure molding. The purpose of the project was to determine the possibility of using CNF to mold large lightweight structural parts.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 50% or more
 2) Productivity: Mold residence time of 10 minutes
 3) Quality: Drivable levels
 4) Cost (vs. steel products): Equal to or less

Technical challenges:
 1) Detailed evaluation of reliability (e.g. pedestrian protection, opening and closing durability)
 2) Reduction of molding time, special manufacturing equipment required
 3) Electromagnetic shielding
 4) Repairability, etc.

In the future:
 1) Understand the potential to use for larger integrated molding
 2) Improve moldability
 3) Conduct detailed evaluation of other strengths aside from weight reduction (e.g. thermal insulation, NVH) )
 4) Confirm of the importance of concerns (water absorption, EMI, safety, etc.)
 5) Evaluate waterproof paintability, etc.

 

Battery carrier (Toyota Auto Body)

バッテリーキャリア
Battery carrier

 While Toyota Auto Body was not a participating member on this project, it was involved in another CNF-related project, and exhibited a component featured on the NCV concept car as a reference exhibit. The battery carrier is made from a composite material of PP and 15% CNF, achieving a 30% weight reduction in comparison to metal components.

 

Instrument panel, lift gate (DaikyoNishikawa)

 The purpose of this project was to pursue the possibility of mass production of interior parts by injection and foam molding PP/CNF and PA/CNF composite materials.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction (to replace conventional materials): 20% or more, (vs. steel) 50% or more
 2) Manufacturability:: Ease-of-fabrication equivalent to conventional product
 3) Quality: Ensure mirror smooth finish, the finish should be free of swirls specific to foams
 4) Cost: Equal to conventional products

Technical challenges:
 1) Benefits of weight reduction offset by degradation of physical property (impact resistance)
 2) Reduced smoothness due to CNF aggregation

In the future:
 1) Improve physical properties and functionality (e.g. improved CNF dispersibility, foam cell control, etc.)
 2) Evaluate specification conformity (long-term heat resistance, moisture resistance, flame resistance, VOC)
 3) Improve foam appearance
 4) Material costs

インストルメントパネル リフトゲート
Instrument panel Lift gate

 

Air conditioner casing (Denso)

エアコンケース
Air conditioner casing

 The air conditioner casing is made from a composite material of polyolefin and CNF. The aim of the project was to realize weight reduction of large and complex-shaped components.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 10wt% or more vs. conventional products (PP/talc)
 2) Manufacturability: Cycle times equal to conventional current products
 3) Quality: Satisfies the mechanical properties (rigidity) required for commercialization, and warping is less than half that of conventional products
 4) Cost: Less than 10% increase in costs compared to conventional materials

Technical challenges:
 1) Compatibility with mechanical properties when weight is further reduced
 2) Effects on physical properties and dimensional stability during water absorption and hydrolysis
 3) VOC generation due to thermal stress during molding
 4) Deterioration of productivity (cycle time, etc.) due to high pressure foam molding

 

Intake manifold (Aisin Seiki)

インテークマニホールド
Intake manifold

  An environmentally friendly intake manifold formed using injection-molded PA6 and 15% CNF composite material.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction (vs. PA6-GF30): 10% or more (if PA6-GF30 and PA6-CNF15 have equal mechanical properties)
 2) Manufacturability: Equal to conventional injection-molded materials
 3) Quality: Ensure quality required for commercialization
 4) Cost: Equal to conventional materials by 2030

Technical challenges: CNF water absorption and aggregation.

In the future:
 1) Study methods to ensure dimensional stability and improve pressure resistance by optimizing the design shape
 2) Determine the optimum conditions for forming and welding CNF materials
 3) Investigate CNF costs

 

Seat cushion (Sanwa Kako)

シートクッション
Seat cushion
Display panel: Seat cushion

 CNF was added to polyethylene (PE) to create an injection foam material with high-foaming ability and high tensile strength that were used for hot injection molding of the seat cushion (formed by inserting a 30-fold foamed part inside and wrapped inside a 15-fold foamed part)

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 10-15%
 2) Manufacturability: Same as conventional hot injection molding method
 3) Quality: Current levels
 4) Cost: Same level as conventional product or an increase of roughly 5%

Technical challenges: CNF cost

In the future: Used as a heat insulator and sound absorber (wind noise reduction) for concept cars.

 

Chrome parts (Maxell)

めっき部品
Chrome parts (Door handle, and others)
Display panel: Chrome parts (Front grill)

 Aiming to manufacture lightweight highly -rigid components by combining CNF-PA6 plating and foam molding technologies.

Objectives:
 1) Weight reduction: 20-30% of conventional ABS plastic plating products (foam molded parts)
 2) Productivity, quality, cost: Equal to conventional products

Technical challenges: Plating quality stability and productivity (injection molding, plating process optimization)

In the future:
 1) Assess required quality
 2) Improve plating substrate surface quality
 3) Evaluate benefits other than weight reduction
 4) Manufacturability
 5) Cost estimate

 



Automobile weight reduction with CNF

CNFによる軽量化開発
Development of lightweight products using CNF

 The panel summarizing the development of lightweight products using CNF introduced the characteristics and physical properties of the material. The panel also introduced the process from raw materials to resin pellets, as well as its benefits and application examples of how CNF is used.

 CNF is environmentally friendly and invaluable resources that Japan can supply in abundance. While the development of its applications is still in its early stages, this project was extremely challenging, and was aimed at using CNF to reduce the weight of automotive components. It was a rewarding opportunity to view a concept car with so many CNF components at this motor show, and each component was well worth seeing. Considering the strict requirements on physical properties and cost, it seems that it will still be a while until CNF commonly used in automotive components, but we’d like to think that CNV products will be commercialized in the not to distant future.


Reference: NCV project by Ministry of the Environment
http://www.rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp/ncv/

 


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Keywords:
Motor Show, Lightweighting, Plastic Injection molding, Plastic, Cellulose Nanofiber, CNF, NCV, Nano Cellulose Vehicle

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