It's self-evident that cars must become lighter in order to reduce fuel consumption. For most car designers this principally means body parts but the powertrain system, which includes the engine, also accounts for a large proportion of the vehicle's weight.
Until now, carmakers have relied on aluminum to reduce the weight of engine components such as the cylinder block. In the future, however, car manufacturers will be able to achieve further weight savings by designing cylinder blocks in which selected parts are made of fiber-reinforced plastics. An experimental engine developed by Germany's Fraunhofer project group for new drive systems (NAS) in collaboration with SBHPP, the high-performance plastics business unit of Japan's Sumitomo Bakelite, Japan, demonstrates this principle. NAS is part of the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT.