Chevrolet Corvette lightweight Smart Material and shape memory alloys
The 2014 Corvette will be seen with a new aluminum frame. This new Smart Material results in the vehicle being a good 99 pounds lighter than its earlier counterpart. This will be the first sports car to be fitted with a new lightweight shape memory alloy wire which has been developed by General Motors. This will function as a motorized actuator to open and close the hatch vent to release air from the trunk.
This will also enable the trunk lid to close easier as compared to previous models should air be trapped. In total, there will be close to 200 motorized parts in the vehicle that will be fitted with lightweight smart materials and this should combine to drastically reduce overall weight of the Corvette. These parts are made of copper-aluminum-nickel or nickel titanium which being smart can alter their shape, strength and rigidity when subjected to heat, electric voltage or a magnetic field.
It is also due to its shape memory that these parts regain their original shape when deactivated. Shape memory also helps in augmenting vehicle performance and contributes to better fuel efficiency. These materials come in attractive designs and improved features while at the same time they are more economical as compared to traditional motors and actuators.
Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer had this to say, “Smart materials like shape memory alloys offer new possibilities for many movable vehicle features.” “These new materials enable innovative designs and new and improved features at a lower cost than traditional motors and actuators.”
Paul Alexander, GM smart materials and structures researcher said, “The shape memory alloy used on the new Corvette represents nearly five years of research and development work on smart materials for which GM has earned 247 patents.” “And it is just the beginning. We have many more smart material applications in the pipeline that will bring even more improvements to our vehicles going forward.”