The ECOSHELL project concerned the development of optimal structural solutions for super light electric vehicles (category L6 and L7e), decreasing its environmental footprint and using an innovative, bio-composite material for the vehicle body.
Traditionally, this category of urban vehicles has been relatively expensive and lacking of sufficient security measures compared to classic vehicles (category m1n1), and consequently they have been less attractive for popular use. However, a car-body lighter than 100Kg will allow electric vehicles to have acceptable performances at an affordable price, due to lower engine power and lower energy consummation.
ECOSHELL's aim was handling the first two major drawbacks (production cost and safety) of super light electric vehicles while further improving the associated environmental advantages via the application of innovative biodegradable materials for the vehicle body.
The ECOSHELL partners worked on:
- The material: finding the best material for such application (natural fiber, resin, glue);
- The structural parts: defining the optimum geometry and body architecture, and the optimum shape of the different parts;
- The vehicle: defining the optimum shape and architecture. The work was carried out through three sub-projects:
- 'Manufacturing': Manufacturing the material, manufacturing and assembling the parts of the body and assembling the car.
- 'Life cycle': Finding materials whose properties are in accordance with the vehicle life cycle, defining the parts of the body responding to the constraints of the vehicle life cycle and defining the vehicle, testing it against torsion, flexion and crash.
- 'End of life': defining the end of life for the material, the structural parts, and the car (disassembly).
ECOSHELL stood out as an innovative project compared to related activities mostly concerned with the improvement of production and weight of small size vehicles.
Regarding the then current bill of materials of the car, there was an evaluation of weight of about 460Kg, which was quite close to the target. The energy absorbed by the first concept of crash box was quite close to the amount of energy that had to be absorbed during the front crash. These results were really encouraging and seemed to show that the objectives of the project were achievable.
The project resulted in:
a) Defining the formula and protocol of implementation for a new bio-based composite made of flax fibers and furan resin and/or tannin of wood based resin usable with SMC and RMT technologies for structural purpose. This material, using long fiber (non-woven or woven) or short fibers may have an average young modulus close to 15GPa and a strength resistance close to 150MPa. This allowed:
- New European production of tannin of wood giving an additional value to the exploitation of forests and wood;
- New European production of furan resin, allowing to value the waste treatment of the food-processing industry;
- Maintaining the European linen production by providing this sector with new outlets;
- Giving the European composites sector new perspectives by producing materials in agreement with the legislation on the COV emission.
b) Characterizing and fully understanding the behaviours of these new materials in numerous different conditions. This allowed for:
- Having a real validation using numerical tools;
- Proposing this material to different sectors like rail road, aeronautic, boat, trucks, street furniture, etc.
c) Demonstrating its feasibility for the vehicle body. This allowed for showing the interest of this material for structural use.
Innovating for the future: technology and behaviour
- Promoting more sustainable development
- Integrated urban mobility