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Ford's carbon fiber hood prototype   (Source: Ford Motor Company)
The new carbon fiber hood prototype weighs more than 50 percent less than the standard steel versions, yet is five times as strong as steel

Ford is looking to make its vehicles even more fuel efficient with a new prototype carbon fiber hood that weighs less than traditional versions. 
 
The Ford European Research Centre partnered with Dow Automotive Systems in the Hightech.NRW research project to develop the carbon fiber hood prototype. Ford also collaborated with the Institute of Automotive Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, Toho Tenax, Composite Impulse, Henkel, IKV (Institute of Plastics Processing) and Evonik. 
 
The new carbon fiber hood prototype weighs more than 50 percent less than the standard steel versions, yet is five times as strong as steel. The carbon fiber is also twice as stiff as steel and will reduce the weight of Ford vehicles by about 750 pounds by the end of the decade. 
 
"It's no secret that reducing a vehicle's weight can deliver major benefits for fuel consumption, but a process for fast and affordable production of carbon fibre automotive parts in large numbers has never been available," said Inga Wehmeyer, advanced materials and processes research engineer for Ford European Research Centre. "By partnering with materials experts through the Hightech.NRW research project, Ford is working to develop a solution that supports cost efficient manufacturing of carbon fibre components." 
 
The project started in 2010 and is expected to continue until September 2013. In that time frame, Ford and its partners set out to develop cost effective methods for carbon fiber manufacturing; reduce individual component production times; reduce the amount of finishing work required; meet requirements for painting, and reduce the component weight by at least 50 percent. 
 
"There are two ways to reduce energy use in vehicles," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president of Research and Innovation. "Improving the conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and reducing the amount of work that powertrains need to do. Ford is tackling the conversion problem primarily through downsizing engines with EcoBoost and electrification while mass reduction and improved aerodynamics are keys to reducing the workload."
 
So far, the outcome has been a prototype carbon fiber hood that weighs more than 50 percent less than standard steel. The carbon fiber hood was placed in a Ford Focus at the Composites Europe event in Dusseldorf, Germany. Early testing suggests that it will meet Ford's standards for dent resistance, crash performance and stiffness. 

Increasing fuel efficiency is crucial right now, considering the White House finalized the 54.5 MPG Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for 2017-2025 model years back in August of this year. The new standards aim to cut oil consumption/dependency, greenhouse gas emissions and encourage green vehicle adoption. 

Source: Ford



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silly carbon fiber
By Argon18 on 10/9/2012 6:17:49 PM , Rating: 1
using carbon fiber for a ford sedan hood is just plain silly. lightweight materials are awesome, carbon fiber is awesome, but it doesn't make economic sense. cf is expensive, particularly so right now, since the defense contractors are buying it all up. use a lightweight material yes, but use one that makes economic sense right now today - how about aluminum? or fiberglass? both are much lighter than steel, and don't cost nearly as much as carbon fiber. the only advantage to carbon fiber panels on a family sedan, is that it sounds high tech and trendy. no thanks.




RE: silly carbon fiber
By Rukkian on 10/10/2012 2:30:31 PM , Rating: 1
The whole point of a study like this is to see what it does to econmies of scale and how production could be ramped up while testing various crash scenarios.

Aluminum is scarce and expensive (for the good stuff), and will get more expensive if it is used more, while composites (like CF) should (in theory) get much cheaper with mass production.


RE: silly carbon fiber
By Argon18 on 10/30/2012 6:37:25 PM , Rating: 2
Aluminum is highly recyclable, widely available, and the processes and techniques for making aluminum auto body parts has been around for decades. The Audi A8 has been made entirely from aluminum since its introduction in the 1990's. Claiming that aluminum is expensive compared to CF is outright nonsense. Stadium bleachers are made of aluminum. Beer cans are made of aluminum. Have you seen any carbon fiber stadium bleachers or carbon fiber beer cans?

The fact remains, that this Ford CF announcement is nothing more than marketing fluff and hype.


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