MEDIA

  • Thursday October 5th, 2017

    An ultra light rim that will affect the development of electromobility. The next investment of the Alfabeat team

    Made of carbon composite, the prototype of an ultra light rim weighs as little as 3.5 kg. In comparison, the weight of currently used aluminum rims ranges from 6 to 13 kg, depending on the manufacturing technology. It emerges that such differences do matter, especially when the development of electromobility is concerned. The calculations reveal that fitting a full set of ultra light rims will increase the distance range by 6 per cent. ‘It is a slight improvement, but a truly great achievement in terms of electromobility,’ assures the Fibratech team.

    Considering the general weight of cars it may appear that a difference of a few kilograms in the weight of rims should not have any impact on how well the car drives. Meanwhile, it is precisely the rim weight that not only has influence on the dynamics – accelerating and braking – but also allows the cars to run longer distances. This fact is well known to the founders of Fibratech: Michał Smentoch, Michał Sobolewski, PhD and Engineer, and Claus Bayrethuer, PhD and Engineer, all of whom have worked on the concept of an ultra light wheel rim. The creators are convinced that their invention will affect the development of electromobility.

    ‘We estimate that thanks to our rims the cars will be able to reach a distance longer by 6 per cent, which will be achieved with only one full charge of the battery in an electric car,’ says Michał Smentoch. ‘It may seem to be a slight percentage, but in terms of electromobility it is truly a great achievement.’

    Presently there are other manufacturers who are using composite materials in their rims. However, due to the type of technology they use they have not been able to reduce the rim weight to the extent that they may become a genuine competitor to e.g. the so popular aluminum rims. This prompted the Fibratech team to use another method of combining composite materials – a thread, which they call an ‘endless thread’, that enables the manufacturer to ‘tailor to the needs’. Within this process it is necessary to work out the optimal structure for the rim that is being made, based on the analysis of the loads when the car is on the move. On basis on the analysis the proper pattern is next ‘sewn’ with the use of a single composite fiber according to the established parameters.

    The Alfabeat fund and accelerator team also believed in the ability to create the ultra light rim and invested one million zloties in the project. The amount will cover research and development works, which should result in creating a functional prototype of the rim, developed according to the guidelines of a chosen car manufacturer.

    ‘Once the prototype is tested, if everything goes according to plan, it will be possible to go to the next stage, that is creating a complete production line for manufacturing the rim with the use of the ‘endless thread,’ announces Michał Smentoch. ‘It is however an enterprise that will require raising additional funds as part of the next round of financing.’

    From the investor’s perspective verifying the real need for such a solution will be a crucial criterion that will influence making the decision about supporting this project.

    ‘The concept of an ultra light rim has been enthusiastically embraced by the biggest producers of car rims, as well as cars manufacturers themselves’, says Michał Mysiak, Managing Partner at Alfabeat. ‘Moreover, this solution fits well into the global trend in the automobile industry, which is the ever spreading use of electric cars. It is worth noting that even in Poland presently the focus is on developing electromobility, which is confirmed by the objectives of the Electromobility Development Programme realized as part of the Responsible Development Strategy.’

    As part of the BRIdge Alfa scheme run in cooperation with the National Center for Research and Development the Alfabeat team plans to support twenty technological projects, to which they will give 24 million zloties in total. Projects may be submitted through the website: www.alfabeat.pl

    Katarzyna Szychta

    katarzyna.szychta@alfabeat.pl