Introducing the ALMA project

Nine European organizations have announced their intention to collaborate and develop a more energy efficient and sustainable vehicle structure.

According to the low emissions mobility strategy1, the European Union aims to have at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2030. Measures to support jobs, growth, investment, and innovation are taken to tackle emissions from the transport sector.

The ALMA project (Advanced Light Materials and Processes for the Eco-Design of Electric Vehicles) aims to improve the efficiency and driving range of electric vehicles by reducing the weight of the global vehicle.

The EU-funded project held an online kickoff meeting on February 23-24, in which nine partners from four European Union countries participated. This consortium for a European Commission Horizon 2020 project seeks to harness the collective strengths to collaborate across disciplines.

The group involves five market-orientated companies, three RTOs and one International association; the members of the consortium, led by CTAG – Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia (Spain), include: Arcelormittal Maizieres Research (France), Ford-Werke (Germany), Innerspec Technologies Europe (Spain), BATZS. Coop. (Spain), RESCOLL (France), Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V. (Germany), Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek TNO (Netherlands) and ISWA – International Solid Waste Association (Netherlands).

In order to improve the efficiency and driving range of electric vehicles (EVs), the weight of the global vehicle must be reduced. Furthermore, increasing environmental awareness and forthcoming stricter regulations demands the adoption of circular economy principles across the entire vehicle life cycle.

Raquel Ledo, Head of the Materials Innovation Area at CTAG and ALMA coordinator said: “This project will not only represent an important advance in the state-of-the-art for improving electric vehicle efficiency, but also a shift in the conventional linear conception of the automotive value chain towards the adoption of sustainability and circular economy as core principles in this sector.”

This is a three-year project which aims to achieve innovation and sustainability. To respond to this challenge, ALMA will develop a novel battery electric vehicle (BEV) structure for a passenger car with 45% weight reduction potential compared to current baseline at affordable costs. For this purpose, ALMA will develop a multimaterial modular platform made of a combination of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHHS), Advanced-SMC and steel-hybrid materials, characterized with multiscale modelbased tools.

The Circular Economy is at its core. ALMA will adopt circular economy principles from early stages through the application of eco-design strategies to create a novel BEV platform “made to be recycled”. For this purpose, it will use a structural reversible bonding technology to enable the separation of components at the endoflife (EoL) for repair and reuse. A groundbreaking health monitoring system based on acoustic emissions will be integrated in the structure to detect and locate damage while inservice. Finally, efficient recycling and material recovery options will be analyzed to complete the circular loop.