Joining forces with Porsche Motorsport, scientists at Fraunhofer WKI first tested organic materials for series readiness under extreme conditions on a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport using the mobile development laboratory of the German “Four Motors” racing team.
“The third generation of the ‘Bio concept-Car’ has been on the race track since 2015. The tests combine the advantage of extreme stress with a vehicle that is also street-legal after modifications. The partnership with Porsche AG also enables development under the realistic conditions of an automobile manufacturer,’ says Ole Hansen, project manager at the Fraunhofer WKI Application Center for Wood Fiber Research HOFZET. “We’ve been able to continuously improve the material properties over the last four years.”
The German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture BMEL is a strategic partner of the project and promotes the development of biogenic light-weight components in the funding program “Renewable Resources” with the central coordinating agency for renewable resources, Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. FNR.
The driver and passenger doors, as well as the rear wing of the new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, are made using a mixture of organic fibers. The Cayman is a real lightweight, weighing in at only 1320 kilograms. A factor here is the 60-percent weight saving resulting from the use of organic composite materials instead of steel in the doors.
The composite material consists of a thermoset polymer matrix system reinforced with organic fibers, used because the raw materials are readily available, it exhibits high tensile strength, and is particularly fine, homogenous and drapable, easily fitting part shapes. The ease with which it can be produced to precise dimensions facilitate machining and quality assurance, even in combination with other conventionally manufactured components.
Apart from these aspects, Fraunhofer WKI also considered other factors in its investigations, including concepts for end-of-life recycling or reuse and scale-up approaches for parts that are to be produced in greater quantities.
“After extensive testing under extreme conditions on the race track we continued to evaluate our parts, which ultimately led to the conclusion that these ecologically beneficial organic materials fulfil the criteria for volume production,” adds Ole Hansen.