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Ford and Dow partner to research use of advanced carbon fiber composities in high-volume vehicles

12 April 2012

Ford Motor Company is partnering with Dow Automotive Systems, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, to research the use of advanced carbon fiber composites in high-volume vehicles.

Dow Automotive Systems and Ford have signed a joint development agreement that will see researchers from the two companies collaborate on several fronts. The development teams will focus on establishing an economical source of automotive-grade carbon fiber and develop component manufacturing methods for high-volume automotive applications.

The partnership will seek to combine the best of Ford’s capabilities and experience in design, engineering and high-volume vehicle production with Dow Automotive’s strengths in R&D, materials science and high-volume polymer processing.

Ford is investigating a range of new materials, enhanced design processes and new manufacturing techniques that would enable automotive structures to meet increasingly stringent safety and quality standards while cutting weight. Cutting the weight of new cars and trucks by up to 750 pounds (340 kg) by the end of the decade is a key component of Ford’s strategy to improve fuel efficiency.

Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle. However, it’s particularly critical to improving the range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

— Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation

Carbon fiber composites have been used in aerospace and racing cars for decades due to their unique combination of high strength and low mass. Until recently these materials have been far too costly for use in high-volume mainstream applications.

The joint development effort will also leverage work that The Dow Chemical Company has already begun through partnerships with Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

If the joint development effort is successful, carbon fiber components may begin appearing on new Ford vehicles in the latter part of this decade as product development teams work toward meeting new fuel efficiency standards of more than 50 mpg and extending the range of plug-in vehicles.

April 12, 2012 in Materials, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Cutting weight of the average car from 3200 lbs to 2400 lbs or by about 25% would be another valuable step towards extended rage BEVs and improved ICEVs. Since batteries and associated controls weight could very go down by as much as 50% in the same time frame, 2020 BEVs could be more than 25% lighter.

Very good but the anti oil people will complain. As I understand it, carbon fiber uses a substantial amount of oil,making the rayon, using petroleum pitch, plastic, etc.

It depends what the costs and savings are. If you reduce the car weight 20% and get 10% better mileage, that would be a 3000 pound car now weighing 2400 pounds and getting 33 mpg instead of 30 mpg.

There may be more cost effective ways of getting 3 mpg more from the car than all the effort and expense of removing 600 pounds from the car with carbon fiber, aluminum and whatever methods you have. They all cost extra money.

I have nothing against reducing the weight of cars, it has to be considered with cost in mind however. Audi has had several models with aluminum bodies, the first Honda Insight had an aluminum body, but you do not see that much any more and there are probably good reasons for that.

Im interrested to buy. Hoods, wheels, body panels, brackets, trims, mufflers, seats, driving shafts, radiators, gas tanks, bumpers, etc. Thank for this message, i will retard my buying till the end of the decade to see the availibility and the pricing, till then i'll keep my actual car.

Human nature being what it is I can't help thinking that the main result of any part of "adding lightness" would be to lift the acceleration of the family car towards a 0 to 60mph sprint in 6 seconds.

Anyone remember seeing a particular episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson provided amusement by competing a Honda Accord against a stock seventies era E-Type Jag ? No surprise to me or other suscribers how that power play was going to turn out.

If the thrust today is an "adding lightness" meme then I would think that reducing engine weight would be an attractive first option since the engine is the heaviest single component on the chassis. Furthermore we already have one candidate. I would therefore suggest an interesting matchup would be to select the Fiat Panda (or Topolino ?) with its new parallel twin turbocharged engine which is 25% lighter than a 4 cyl to compete against the venerable and equally powerful 4 cyl engine in the Toyota Yaris. A twin versus a 4 cyl. Two designs which as with the Jag and the Accord also have more than ten years between their release.

When these test results are in perhaps I will be better able to accept carbon fiber as the next disruptive technology for improving both performance and fuel economy that I for one would like to see.

Transmissions may be the second heaviest component. How about an EV made with aluminum chassis, plastic body panels and two motors driving the rear wheels.

There would be no engine, transmission, differential, gas tank nor exhaust system, just aluminum, plastic and motors. If you can get the capacity of batteries up, enough of them would weight less than now.

SJC...described future BEVs. That is what is coming. Every component must be 25% to 50% lighter and it is a strong possibility in the not too distant future. Electrification i.e. high cost of batteries is a good driving force. Energy savings is another one, specially outside USA/Canada where the majority is more energy and environment conscious.

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