The switch from automobiles with internal combustion engines to models with electric drives has not only fundamentally changed the technical design of the vehicle architecture. Since the production of an automobile requires a great deal of energy and consumes large quantities of resources, the higher mileage of vehicles could significantly reduce energy requirements in production and significantly reduce the depletion of mineral resources. This is where the “KOSEL” research project comes in, for which the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU has joined forces with partners from industry and research.
The approach: vehicle components that have a long service life can be used over several vehicle life cycles, so they do not have to be produced anew. To make this possible, the project team has developed a closed-loop open-source construction kit that contains particularly durable and reusable modules for a light e-utility vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tons. The main modules – front end, battery box and rear end – are interconnected via fixed interfaces, allowing them to be replaced with little effort.
“With the cycle-compatible modular system, individual components or complete vehicle components can be replaced. As a result, the majority of the vehicle experiences a longer service life. The cost of repairs is reduced and longer economic operation is made possible,” Patryk Nossol, a researcher in the Systems and Technologies for Textile Structures (STEX) department at Fraunhofer IWU in Zittau, explains the approach. The e-vehicle platform is designed for operating times of up to 30 years and mileages of up to one million kilometers and is realized in the form of a prototype. Modules made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics are planned for areas that are subject to high stresses and are to be reused several times. Although these would have a comparatively high CO2 footprint during production, they would compensate for the disadvantage due to their low mass and high fatigue strength over long periods of use. Occupant safety was also a key criterion in the development of reusable components.
The circular mobility concept is intended for medium-volume fleet vehicles. The prerequisite for this, he said, is the establishment of a circular value chain that can test individual components after their first life cycle and revise them if necessary. The concept is intended to serve as a model and trigger similar developments in the mobility sector. The KOSEL demonstrator will be presented at the Hannover Messe from April 17 to 21 at the Fraunhofer joint booth in hall 16, booth A12.
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