Carbon in Mobility

Driving, flying, gliding, sailing – mobility is movement. To move something is to change it. Carbon harbors the potential for tomorrow’s mobility. We are helping it spread its wings.

Whether by car, airplane, or ship, mobility brings the world a bit closer and changes our daily routines. And it also presents us with new challenges. Mobility must become even more efficient and sustainable in the future. It must also protect natural resources and reduce CO2 emissions.

Together with our customers and partners, SGL Group is developing sustainable mobility. We are heading steadfastly in new directions and even daring to tread new ground in order to come up with convincing solutions. And we’re successful because we know our strengths and because we know the strengths of carbon. We stand firmly on this solid base and embrace existing opportunities, ponder new possibilities, and develop creative solutions for industry.

Lighter than aluminum. As strong as steel. This advanced material is revolutionizing the automobile.

In Formula 1 racing, carbon has been essential for quite some time now. With the exception of just a few parts, these race cars are made entirely of carbon fiber. And for good reason. No material is lighter or more stable, nor provides the driver with more reliable crash protection. Electric drive systems are also making carbon a more important component in series production. Emission-free mobility requires lighter vehicles that also meet high safety standards.

From fibers to finished composite components

Carbon fiber composite material

0% lighter than aluminium 0% lighter than steel

The battery systems of the future

The heart of an electric car is its energy reservoir, the battery.
The battery’s performance determines how far the car can drive
on one charge and how much it costs. Lithium-ion batteries provide
the energy for the motor of the future and carry the greatest
potential for e-mobility.

SGL Group is not just one of the biggest producers of graphite 
anode material for lithium-ion batteries, it also promotes the
further development of this technology. Together with partners
from science and industry, we are improving battery-cell
performance while strengthening Germany’s competitiveness
in this key technology as part of the Lithium-ion Battery Network
of Excellence (KLiB).

Automotive industry is working on fuel cell concepts for longer
driving ranges. SGL Group is supporting these concepts with
carbon fiber-based gas diffusion layers.

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers - Lightweight construction for E-mobility

In 2013, BMW Group is planning the series production of the BMW i3, an electric-powered light motor vehicle. The novel passenger compartment of the BMW i3 is made entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced synthetic material. This means less weight, a better cruising range, and greater safety.It marks the first time in automotive history that carbon fiber-reinforced plastic will be used to such an extent in a production vehicle.

The joint venture SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers is developing and producing the preliminary products for the
BMW i-series.

We have built a new plant to produce carbon fiber for the BMW i series. It is located in Moses Lake in Washington state. Here too, the focus has been on sustainable growth from the very beginning because the energy for all fiber production comes solely from hydro power.

Moses Lake, USA – The starting material, a synthetic fiber-based precursor, is highly sensitive and flammable. The fine filaments pass in long processing lines through furnaces at temperatures of up to 1400°C. In this process, the color of the fibers changes from white to the characteristic black. Along with the color, the properties also change: the sensitive starting material is converted into an extremely strong, heat-resistant carbon fiber that is 95% pure carbon.

Wackersdorf, Germany – Wound up on bobbins, the carbon fibers are supplied to the second joint venture facility. Here, the black fibers are laid on top of each other in different alignments and stitched into carbon fiber multiaxial fabrics. The finished multiaxial fabrics are then wound up onto rolls and dispatched to the BMW plants in Landshut and Leipzig, where they are processed into components for the BMW i model. The dry cuttings from Landshut and Leipzig are transported back to Wackersdorf, where they are recycled. The recycled material is then reused in the BMW i models, e.g. for the roof or rear seat shell.

The SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers joint venture between SGL Group and the BMW Group combines the strengths of both companies, so making it possible to go into volume production with a sustainable premium vehicle. Soon this first electric car with a carbon fiber passenger cell will be conquering the streets of our cities.

Benteler SGL – Lightweight construction speeds up

Lightweight structures made of carbon fiber help to reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles. Yet these structural elements are not only especially lightweight, they also offer other benefits that make them interesting for automotive engineering. These include their excellent crash test performance – no other material absorbs crash energy as well as carbon.

Benteler SGL produces lightweight components made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic especially for automotive engineering. With an eye to safety and emissions reduction, this company based in Paderborn, Germany primarily develops structural elements such as B-pillars, leaf springs, and bumpers.

The joint venture fuses the material expertise of SGL Group with the automotive experience of Benteler. This alliance enables solutions that are tailored to the customer – from the construction of structural elements to process optimization for series production.

Benteler-SGL GmbH hosted a grand opening ceremony of the new production facility of Benteler-SGL in Ort im Innkreis, Austria in October 2012. Composite components will be manufactured for the first time in serial production at the state-of-the-art 45,000 m² site starting in middle of 2013. Benteler-SGL is investing a total of € 36 million.

Complex composite material structures

At an altitude of 10,000 meters, there are extreme forces acting on an airplane. The material and design must withstand enormous stresses and strains while also being lightweight. The special features of carbon fiber have earned it a permanent place in the aerospace industry ever since the 1960s, long before it became a material of choice for other applications.


Development of high strength carbon fibers for aerospace

How do tensile force, temperature, and speed affect the quality of a fiber? We have set up a carbon fiber pilot plant in Meitingen that is like no other in the world so that we can gain a more precise understanding of crucial details within the carbon fiber production process.

At this plant, researchers and technicians simulate different production scenarios in order to obtain precise data about the customized properties of new carbon fibers. We then use this information later in larger facilities to manufacture exactly the kind of fiber that is best suited for our customers’ applications.

The new plant forms the core of the “AirCarbon” project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), in which European industrial partners led by SGL Group are for the first time developing high strength carbon fibers for use in aerospace.

Leightweight construction for boat and yacht building

Half a century ago, the introduction of glass-fiber-reinforced plastics revolutionized yacht building. With the advent of carbon-fiber materials, an advance at least as important has been taking place for some time now. Carbon-based hulls and masts are considerably lighter and yet stronger. Yachts can therefore be sailed faster with less power.

SGL Group has comprehensive know-how in the field of carbon-fiber materials and with its carbon fibers, woven fabrics, multiaxial fabrics, and prepregs offers the whole range of carbon materials required in yacht and boat building.

A solar catamaran made of carbon fiber

Traveling around the world just on power from the sun sounds like an adventure from a Jules Verne novel. But Raphaël Domjan from Switzerland has turned this idea into reality with the “MS-Tûranor- PlanetSolar”, the biggest solar ship ever built. The first solar-powered journey around the world took 584 days, 23 hours, and 31 minutes. It showed what renewable energies are already capable of today.

The entire deck of the 31-meter long, futuristic catamaran is plated with solar modules. When extended, the collector surface measures 537 square meters, about the size of two tennis courts. The four electric motors of the “MS-Tûranor-PlanetSolar” are powered exclusively by solar energy. And for nightime travel, huge lithium-ion batteries store captured energy.

Light, efficient, resistant – only one material could possibly meet the special demands of this project. The hull of the catamaran is made almost entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. It was built in a shipyard in Kiel with SGL Group material: uni- and bi-directional carbon fiber fabric and non-woven fabric for maximum stability and minimal weight.