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A Greener Car Industry – Award for Swansea Expert’s Work to Cut Energy Used to Build Cars

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A Swansea University researcher who is developing more environmentally friendly techniques for car manufacturing has won a £1,000 award from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, which will allow him to share his work with fellow experts.

Gethin Llewelyn of the College of Engineering at Swansea University is researching a technique called foam injection moulding (FIM), which is used to create lightweight polymer parts that need less energy and raw polymer to manufacture.

From 2020 European environmental legislation will be enforced, requiring the automotive industry to cut the carbon emissions involved in producing vehicles. Manufacturers will only be allowed to generate 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre for each car produced.  Making cars lighter is one possible solution to this, which is why the industry is exploring new manufacturing techniques.

Gethin is working alongside some large automotive companies to assess how this FIM technology affects the quality of the final parts used in cars.

In his first project, he showed that foamed polypropylene (PP) parts, produced through a technique called MuCell® injection moulding, could weigh 15% less than parts manufactured using conventional methods.  To check their performance, the parts were put through mechanical tests and assessed with sophisticated mould cavity pressure sensors.

Further research is now taking place to develop lightweight tooling, which would also cut the energy needed in the manufacturing process.

It is this work that secured Gethin the £1000 award from the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, following a competition open to Swansea University researchers who are in the early stages of their career.

One of the aims of The Company, founded in 1993, is to “promote education, science, technology and the arts in Wales”. This it achieves by helping young people throughout Wales to develop their talents and skills by means of an annual awards programme of scholarships and bursaries to students in schools, universities and technical colleges, as well as to apprentices and young people in the armed forces.