Towards Affordable, Closed-Loop Recyclable Future Low Carbon Vehicle Structures - TARF-LCV

Lead Research Organisation: Brunel University
Department Name: Mech. Engineering, Aerospace & Civil Eng


The UK automotive industry is a large and critical sector within the UK economy. It accounts for 820,000 jobs, exports finished goods worth £8.9bn annually and adds value of £10bn to the UK economy each year. However, the UK automotive industry is currently facing great challenges, such as responsibility for a 19% and growing share of UK annual CO2 emissions, strong international competition, declining employment and hollowing-out of the domestic supply chain, and enormous pressure from regulatory bodies for decarbonisation. A solution to these challenges comes from the development and manufacture of low carbon vehicles (LCVs), as identified by the UK government. Vehicle lightweighting is the most effective way to improve fuel economy and to reduce CO2 emissions. This has been demonstrated by many vehicle mass reduction programmes worldwide. Historically vehicle mass reduction has been achieved incrementally by reducing the mass of specific vehicle parts piece-by-piece, with little consideration of the carbon footprint of input materials and closed-loop recycling of end of life vehicles (ELVs). Our vision is that the future low carbon vehicle is achieved by a combination of multi-material concepts with mass-optimised design approaches through the deployment of advanced low carbon input materials, efficient low carbon manufacturing processes and closed-loop recycling of ELVs. To achieve this vision, we have gathered the best UK academic brainpower for vehicle lightweighting and formed the TARF-LCV consortium, whose members include 8 research teams involving 18 academics from Brunel, Coventry, Exeter, Imperial, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford Brookes and Strathclyde. TARF-LCV aims to deliver fundamental solutions to the key challenges faced by future development of LCVs in the strategic areas of advanced materials, enabling manufacturing technologies, holistic vehicle design and closed-loop recycling of ELVs. We have developed a coherent research programme organised 6 work packages. We will develop closed-loop recyclable aluminium (Al) and magnesium (Mg) alloys, metal matrix composites (MMCs) and recyclable polymer matrix composites (PMCs) for body structure and powertrain applications; we will develop advanced low carbon manufacturing technologies for casting, forming and effective vehicle assembly and disassembly; and we will develop mass-optimised design principles and specific life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology for future LCV development. To deliver the 4-year TARF-LCV programme, in addition to the EPSRC funding requested, we have leveraged financial support for 2 post-doctoral research fellows from the EPSRC Centre-LiME at Brunel University and LATEST2 at Manchester University, and for 9 PhD studentships from partner universities. Consequently, the TARF-LCV research team will include 18 academics, 11 post-doctoral research fellows and 18 research students. This not only ensures a successful delivery of the TARF-LCV research programme, but also provides a training ground for the future leaders of low carbon vehicle development in the UK.

Planned Impact

The expected scientific deliverables from the TARF-LCV programme include increased understanding of nucleation and nucleation control, a new approach to alloy development for closed-loop recycling, new approaches to recycling of polymer composites and mass-optimised vehicle design principles. The technological deliverables include a novel technology for liquid metal treatment, advanced manufacturing technologies for casting, forming and active joining of vehicle components/systems and a holistic approach to closed-loop recycling of end of life vehicles.

One of the immediate beneficiaries is the academic community. Such research outputs represent major advances in solidification science, physical metallurgy, composite science, surface and interface engineering, vehicle design and environmental science. They will not only advance substantially our knowledge in the relevant scientific disciplines, but will also inspire researchers in other relevant scientific and engineering fields to make further scientific advances, since most of our research outputs are generic and applicable to other disciplines. In addition the new technologies are all enabling technologies, which can be used as tools for researchers to make further technological advances.

The other immediate beneficiary is the UK automotive industry. It will benefit from: (1) the holistic approach to mass reduction of vehicle structures to speed up vehicle model development; (2) advanced manufacturing technologies to provide technological advantages over its competitors; (3) high performance automotive materials with a reduced cost; and (4) improved sustainability due to reduced CO2 emission, conservation of natural resources and consequently reduced environmental impact.

One of the important beneficiaries is the team of researchers working on TARF-LCV. There will be over 30 researchers (young academics, research fellows and research students) being trained within the programme. They will gain scientific knowledge and the necessary skills required for the future of low carbon vehicle development. Some of them will become the future leaders of academic research, technological development and industrial R&D. This in turn will be extremely beneficial to sustainable development of low carbon vehicles in the UK.

Another beneficiary will be the UK economy. With further development, the advanced automotive materials with fully closed-loop recyclability and the novel low carbon manufacturing technologies will generate new business opportunities for the automotive supply chain in the UK. This on one hand mitigates the current hollowing-out of the UK automotive supply chain, and on the other hand creates jobs and increases manufacturing output for export. The strengthened UK supply chain will in turn increase the competitiveness of the UK automotive OEMs. The expected overall economic benefit to the UK economy cannot be overstated.

The expected environmental benefit is multidimensional. The TARF-LCV programme will contribute directly to successful development of low carbon vehicles in the UK. This will not only reduce substantially the consumption of non-renewable fossil fuel and CO2 emission from road transport, but also conserve precious natural resources through reduced usage, reuse, remanufacture and closed-loop recycling of end of life vehicles, and substantially reduce waste sent to land fill. The ultimate consequence of all these is a significant reduction of environmental impact from the automotive industry and improved sustainability of the UK economy.

The ultimate beneficiary will be society as a whole. Society will benefit from improved air quality through reduced pollution related health problems, increased job opportunities, cleaner and more efficient transport systems, improved national economy, and consequently improved quality of life.


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Description We have developed three new alloys for industry. One of them is already in application and we found new evidence to explain the grain refinement mechanism. At Manchester University, they found corrosion resistance of aluminium and magnesium alloys with trace amounts of impurity.
Exploitation Route With recent success of the EPSRC Future LiME Hub we have a strong consortium involved. Industrial, academics and university provide a strong supply chain in automotive industry.
This is a good channel for industrial application of new technologies. There are many other activites involved in the universities of the project partners so they can take the findings forward.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

Description specially for automotive industry with light weighting materials and manufacturing technologies including new metallic alloys and new polymer matrix composites. the project also working on the design of new cars for next generation with new material and new concept
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description EPSRC-Towards affordable closed loop recyclable future low carbon vehicles (TARF-LCV)
Amount £4,200,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I038616/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2011 
End 05/2016
Title Automatic Generation of Optimised Vehicle Body in White Architecture from a Styling Envelope 
Description Computer code 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Automatic generation of tubular sections within a vehicle topology 
Title Cross Sectional Geometry Development for topology optimised BIW 
Description Computer code 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Automatic generation of Sheet metal section from a vehicle Topology 
Title Pamstamp FE Package 
Description Pamstamp FE Package 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Simulate the Forming process 
Title TARF vehicle Model 
Description Computer Model/Algorithm 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This model is used to implement TARF technologies developed by the consortium members. The model is also designed to meet the project requirement of Impact simulations 
Title Pamstamp FE Package 
Description Simulate the Forming process 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact High Impact 
Description TARF-LCV Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Improved data exchange, Data dissimination to Consortium and Industrial Partners

Collaboration with consortium partners of specific areas of the TARF-LCV vehicle platform
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014