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Tepex® thermoplastic composite-based door assembly receives U.S. Department of Energy Merit Award

Pittsburgh, Pa. –September 13, 2022– A functionally designed ultra-lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite door assembly – the result of a collaborative effort between Clemson Composites Center, the University of Delaware, Honda, Proper Tooling and LANXESS – is the winner of the 2022 Annual Merit Review Team Award presented by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). 


The project began in 2016 when Clemson University researchers began working on technology for fuel savings and energy efficiency to help vehicles meet U.S. corporate average fuel economy standards with a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. With goals of achieving a significant weight reduction without compromising performance, as well as scalability for mass production and recyclability, the Clemson team engineered and constructed an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber-based thermoplastic composite door with Tepex thermoplastic composite sheet from LANXESS High Performance Materials (HPM) as the material of choice.  


After completing material testing, developing a crash material model and designing the door, LANXESS HPM provided support to help optimize the design and developed a manufacturing concept with toolmaker, Proper Tooling. The final design achieved a 45 percent structural reduction in weight, is 100 percent recyclable, uses 64 percent fewer parts to assemble, and  – all with similar crash performance, durability and NVH performance as the baseline steel door, according to predictive analyses. This innovative lightweight solution enables greenhouse gas reduction, fuel efficiency, recyclability and circular economy.


“With the strong partnership between Proper Tooling and Clemson, the project team was able to achieve a design that is drapable using the help of LANXESS’ proprietary draping code. This also helped us to develop a manufacturing strategy that is semi-automated with short production times,” says Pal Swaminathan, business development manager for LANXESS HPM’s Tepex product line. “And, because of its woven nature, the Tepex dynalite material is similar to metal stamping in terms of ease of handling in the manufacturing process – with high strength, but lower weight.”


While the part production is currently still underway, the VTO Annual Merit review recognizes the collaboration between an OEM, material supplier, tool maker and University working together to advance the Energy Department’s missions and goals. The project team was honored during the 2022 Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) Annual Merit Review event in Washington, D.C. in June.


Leanne Trevelline
Corporate Communications

Phone: +1 412-809-1515

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