The motor car embodies something of a cognitive dissonance for planet Earth in the 21st century. While the march of globalisation has meant more and more people have access to their own cars, there is a simultaneous desire to take action on CO2 emissions.
The electric car, as perhaps most famously represented by Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, offers one possible solution. But another is to fundamentally redesign the way our cars are currently built – reducing their bodyweight by up to 50% and thereby reducing their fuel consumption by as much as 30%.
This is the research passion of Professor Jianguo Lin, Head of Mechanics in Materials Division at Imperial College London. And Spectrecom recently filmed with Professor Lin as he and his team journeyed to Sweden to undertake a crucial step in what has been a 10-year research journey.
Professor Lin’s research centres on aluminium forming. At present, car body structures are 97% steel. Aluminium offers a lighter alternative, with the attendant saving in fuel use.
But it has historically proven exceedingly difficult to use aluminium to manufacture the complex shapes needed for car body parts. This is because once the temperature is increased to the point where the shape can be formed, the microstructure of the aluminium has been destroyed.
Over a decade of research, Professor Lin and his team have developed a technique which combines the normally separate processes of manufacture and treatment, allowing for the creation of car body parts using a lightweight aluminium alloy.
Many in the automotive industry believe that within 20 years every car to roll off a production line will be manufactured using Professor Lin’s aluminium forming technique. This has led to immense value being affixed to his research, with a figure of $160 billion being suggested.
But the process is still being tested and developed – and an important such test took place in February at the manufacturing facilities of AP&T. It was this test that was filmed by Spectrecom, with director Chris Karageorgiou and camera operator Eduardo Vento travelling to Sweden to capture the action as it unfolded.
This ‘real-time’ element gives the finished video a fascinating edge; we get to see the test as it happens – when it initially fails, and the nerves as Professor Lin and his team wait with bated breath to see if it will finally succeed.
From a filming point of view, Chris and Eduardo were necessarily reactive in their approach. But they still found time to bring their own small touches of filmmaking flair, such as placing GoPro cameras within the AP&T press for an up close and personal look at the aluminium forming process.
The Aluminium Forming video is part of a new Impact Acceleration series we have produced for Imperial College London, our first work with the university.
There are four videos in the series, each showcasing a different piece of world-leading research to have benefitted from Imperial’s Impact Acceleration Account, a fund which helps the university’s academics maximise the social and economic impact of their work.
The series covers a broad range of topics, and we will bring you a look at the other three videos on the Spectrecom blog over the next week or so.
Spectrecom Films is one of the UK’s leading video production companies for higher education film and video content.
If you’ve got a video project you’re keen to speak to us about, get in touch with Kathy or Oliver, our account managers for universities.