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PPG Selected for DOE Partnership to Develop Adhesives for Lightweight Vehicles

Vehicle manufacturers are exploring the use of aluminum, high-strength steel, magnesium, carbon-fiber composites, and other lightweight materials to reduce vehicle mass and improve fuel economy. This approach requires new adhesive chemistries that will mitigate corrosion and thermal expansion issues associated with joining dissimilar materials.

PPG was selected for a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) partnership, under which PPG will collaborate with the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to develop computer-based models of the aging characteristics of a variety of next-generation adhesives designed to join lightweight materials.

“It is critical to understand how adhesive bonds evolve over the life of a vehicle,” said Peter Votruba-Drzal, global technical director, automotive OEM coatings for PPG. “This knowledge has traditionally come through iterative formulation and testing, including lengthy exposure tests. This project will enable us to reduce adhesives testing time by up to 75%, which in turn will help manufacturers accelerate their development of increasingly energy-efficient vehicles.”

The project will use supercomputing to achieve a fundamental understanding of the influence of water — a key determinant in the aging process — on the chemistry and adhesion properties of adhesives joined to lightweight substrates. Supercomputing resources are necessary because of the extremely large data sets involved in each simulation.

PPG will provide $60,000 for the project in the form of technical activities at the company’s Global Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, Pennsylvania. The DOE will provide $300,000 to LLNL and PNNL for their modeling expertise and the use of their supercomputing resources.

The project was authorized by the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office, with funding provided by the High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) program. The HPC4EI program is funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables and the Fossil Energy Office. It uses world-class DOE capabilities in high performance computing to help industry improve manufacturing processes and product and materials development to reduce national energy consumption. Some 40 U.S. companies have engaged this program for more than 80 projects, increasing competitiveness and reducing energy usage. High performance computers enable increased accuracy of engineering and science simulations, provide for faster optimization and enhance data analytics.

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