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Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Materials and Manufacturing

In the automotive industry, engineering simulation is a critical tool for optimizing material forming processes, tracking material deformations through multistep forming processes and reducing the time and costs of trial-and-error development cycles. The benefits of modeling and process simulation will be even more significant with the adoption of lightweight materials, alternate processing methods, and overall vehicle designs that more tightly integrate structural performance with functional features. To address a current lack of design experience and historical performance data for using lightweight materials in mass-produced vehicles, PNNL is assisting its clients (DOE Office of Industrial Technologies, DOE Office of Freedom CAR and Vehicle Technologies, and DOE Office of Scientific Computing Research) by performing cooperative materials research with auto and truck manufacturers and tier-1 suppliers (suppliers of major components such as frames, auto glazing, etc.) in the transportation industry. In this research, PNNL is focusing on materials critical to the development of lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and trucks such as aluminum, glass and thermoplastic composites. In addition, PNNL researchers are pursuing research in the development and characterization of new methods for joining dissimilar materials.


  • Development of Modeling Tools for Simulating the Hydroforming of Lightweight Structures

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Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas