To create an energy efficient vehicle there are a number of aspects that need to be optimized, namely; the drive train of the vehicle and energy source, aerodynamics and weight. Focusing on weight reduction, while still maintaining the desired performance and structural strength, many manufacturers are turning to advanced composites due to their superior strength to weight characteristics. Solar car racing provides a research platform that drives this innovation through technology development and efficiency. A lightweight vehicle suspension system design is being presented, together with an introduction into future testing. A suspension system is made up of a number of critical components which are dynamically loaded during standard operation due to undulating forces imposed by the road surface. Unidirectional cross-wound carbon fiber tubing is used for suspension and steering arms. The tubing is interfaced with small steel inserts and pivoting arm tie rod ends. Concerns within the design are the adhesive bonding of the carbon tubing to the steel inserts, and what type of tensile loading the interface can withstand. Due to forces imposed on the system during cornering and shock loading the components are required to withstand a minimum of 1.2 times the weight of the overall vehicle, i.e. 258 kg. Tensile test results show that the mechanical properties of the adhesive joints rely somewhat on the surface characteristics and bond preparation. The target load of 258 kg was successfully obtained under static loading for two types of sample sets. The first based on the standard for describing the lap shear strength of adhesively bonded carbon fiber to aluminum, and the second based on the working component itself.
Static Analysis of Advanced Composites for the Optimal Design of an Experimental Lightweight Solar Vehicle Suspension System
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Hurter, WS, Janse Van Rensburg, N, Madyira, DM, & Oosthuizen, GA. "Static Analysis of Advanced Composites for the Optimal Design of an Experimental Lightweight Solar Vehicle Suspension System." Proceedings of the ASME 2014 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. Volume 14: Emerging Technologies; Engineering Management, Safety, Ethics, Society, and Education; Materials: Genetics to Structures. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. November 14–20, 2014. V014T11A012. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2014-40042
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