Hamid Kia is the author of more than 40 published papers and has more than 25 patents to his name. He is a participant at the United States Council for Automotive Research LLC (USCAR), a joint venture company formed by Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company (GM) to support and facilitate collaborative research. He is on USCAR’s Automotive Composites Consortium (ACC) Board of Directors, serving as chair in 2009. He is also a member of the Materials Tech Team (MTT) and is the lab group manager for Polymer Composites at GM.
How is USCAR structured?
USCAR is the collaborative automotive technology research organization of the three U.S. automakers. At USCAR, we cover a wide range of activities from fuel cells and hydrogen storage, to vehicle electrification and advanced battery R&D, vehicle lightweighting, safety, manufacturing and environmental issues. USCAR also covers a range of materials, such as the Automotive Composites Consortium (ACC) group. OEMs and developers, selected from among automotive suppliers and universities all contribute R&D resources and cost sharing, which are then matched by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership program. In addition, the DOE also funds materials R&D at the national laboratories, particularly in carbon fiber.
What is the ACC’s objective?
The ACC itself has a long-range goal of reducing the weight of vehicles by as much as 50 percent while maintaining affordability, all with an eye on increasing recyclability. Our approach is to develop high-risk advanced polymer composites, with a primary emphasis on structural and semi-structural applications. We do technology development, which requires us to pool resources from the three OEM owners of USCAR, suppliers, government and others to develop and improve technologies useful in automotive applications.
How is the ACC structured?
We have three working groups within ACC. One addresses materials and processes, another deals with application development, and a third focuses on technologies related to predicting performance of molded components.
What properties of composites interest you?
Within thermoplastics, we’re focusing on direct compounding for compression and injection molding. We also look at thermosets, carbon fiber, glass fiber, liquid molding and natural fibers. Bonding issues are also of interest to us. When there are bonded composite body panels, you can overcome the bond line read-through by increasing the thickness of the exterior panel. But when the goal is to reduce mass by using thinner and stronger panels (such as carbon fiber composites) then the bond line read-through becomes the bottleneck, which is what we are working on in ACC.