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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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RE: Cool, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 6:47:30 PM , Rating: 1
My friend's Impreza STI has the lightest hood I've ever felt. They didn't need exotic materials, they just used REALLY thin sheet metal and cut down on the bracing.

This is just marketing hype to make them appear progressive, not a realistic solution. Wow, so they lightened the hood, just the hood, by a few pounds for thirty times the cost. WOW I'm blown away!

The only way to possibly meet these CAFE standards is to dramatically decrease car weight. Which means making cars much much smaller, dangerously so.

But hey, increased accident fatalities are a small price to pay for umm, whatever we're getting in return.


RE: Cool, but...
By lagomorpha on 10/9/2012 8:05:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
But hey, increased accident fatalities are a small price to pay for umm, whatever we're getting in return.


In fairness, being in a smaller car doesn't increase accident fatality rates provided the other car you're colliding with is also smaller by the same amount. We just need to make large cars so rare that you're unlikely to ever encounter one.

And don't give me the "what if you get hit by a semi" argument. If an 80,000 pound truck hits you then it will rip through your 1-ton truck like a train punches through a semi-trailer.


RE: Cool, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 8:11:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We just need to make large cars so rare that you're unlikely to ever encounter one.


Socialist says what?

Nah I'm just messing with ya :D I meant to say "I hate you", but that might have been too extreme.


RE: Cool, but...
By lagomorpha on 10/9/2012 8:15:26 PM , Rating: 3
No, it's cool I understand where you're coming from. I'm actually against government control of individual choices as well. After all some men need some way of compensating for their natural shortcomings.

Now if only the government would stay out of my decision to purchase a fun little British deathbox. My life, my decision.


RE: Cool, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2012 8:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
Okay I guess you just don't get it. We're not talking about huge trucks, SUV's, or "muscle cars". Midsized sedans of today won't even make the CAFE cut. And I don't think you can objectively state they are "too large".

I understand the appeal of CAFE to some people, and I really don't care about getting into that right now. I'm just stating facts when I state accident fatalities, a statistic we FINALLY have made great strides in lowering, will steadily climb.

Also your theory that if every car was small, that would magically make things safer, is just wrong.


RE: Cool, but...
By Samus on 10/10/2012 4:40:13 AM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer, we've had the technology to make CAFE fleet averages 55MPG for decades.

It's called common rail diesel and its 30 year old concept.

Don't tell me modern (and future) concepts won't get our fleet average to 50+ MPG in 10 years.

Without government regulation, LA would be a toxic wasteland like Beijing where children develope respiratory problems by the time they are toddlers, birth defects are rampant, and cancer cases are escalating.

I'm so tired of your anti-government rhetoric. You bring politics into every single one of your posts. THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT CARBON FIBER HOODS. Why do you always go on these wild anarchist tangents?


RE: Cool, but...
By FITCamaro on 10/10/2012 7:51:06 AM , Rating: 2
The rest of the country shouldn't bend on the whims of the citizens of LA.


RE: Cool, but...
By Samus on 10/10/2012 7:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
So are you suggesting CAFE shouldn't have made the catalytic convertor a required component on all vehicles so the rest of the country could develope LA's pollution problem?

Have you ever heard of prevention or accountability? The whole reason the government exists is to take care of its citizens. The country would fall apart if people didn't have their health. This is why the government is trying to make foods healthier, education better, and the environment cleaner. If it were up to corporations, all that would matter is profits. Do you really think Ford, GM, or any manufacture for that matter cared about pollution in the 70's?

These dillusions people have that government shouldn't regulate all the way down to large cars are safer than small cars really show how poorly our governments mandated educational guidelines are working, thats for sure...


RE: Cool, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2012 3:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Where did I bring up politics? If you're fine with everyone driving around in something the size of a Fiat 500, and dying in larger numbers, that's on you.

quote:
Reclaimer, we've had the technology to make CAFE fleet averages 55MPG for decades.


Nobody in the ENTIRE WORLD has fleet averages that meet 55+ mpg. Not even Europe. So please, excuse me for calling BS on this statement.

The only way to meet these averages is to cut out trucks, SUV's and sedans from the market. And either make electric vehicles, or tiny cars, probably both. And I know you Liberals think those are novel goals, but I don't think it's the responsibility of the Government to effect those changes.

quote:
Without government regulation, LA would be a toxic wasteland like Beijing where children develope respiratory problems by the time they are toddlers, birth defects are rampant, and cancer cases are escalating.


Nice emotional hyperbole that doesn't even match the discussion. CAFE regulations had NOTHING to do with clearing up LA's air. You're confusing fuel economy with pollution, learn the difference.

And no offense, but I could give two shi#$ about LA. It's just ONE city, and you big-Government socialists bring it up EVERY TIME this discussion comes up. Poor city planning, bad infrastructure, and natural weather conditions that contribute to smog in LA have nothing to do with me.

quote:
I'm so tired of your anti-government rhetoric.


Then do yourself and I a favor and don't read Daily Tech. 11k+ posts, do I show any signs of going away?


RE: Cool, but...
By RedemptionAD on 10/10/2012 4:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with political discussions is idiots on both sides seem to think it is all government or no government, when in reality it is about proberly placed government that doesn't overstep it's bounds. True capitalism is Anarchy, full government control is Communism (which was invented by a guy whom worshiped Satan). Noone here really wants either, the fact is that the USA is a Socialist/Capitalist blend economy ideally tilted more capitalist. Standards can be a good thing, but making sure that they are realistic is the important part when they are set.

The government here actually has overstepped in places like national security almost to the point of paranoia and stripped people of many basic rights as well as overspends like a crackhead at a drug dealer convention on just about everything, those issues need to be addressed immediately before people start complaining too much about a 55mpg CAFE standard. The issue now is the same as many government people pointed out at the big 3 when the bailouts were on the table, is they are in debt to the gills and a soft breeze in their income will send them into bankruptcy. Priorities need to be realligned and taken care of today, election year or not, because if it doesn't happen, tomorrow may never get a chance to come.


RE: Cool, but...
By Samus on 10/10/2012 7:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer, you can pick any body-on-frame car or truck from any manufacture that doesn't require a CDL license, and I'll pick a fiat 500, and we'll have a head-on collision at 70mph (effective speed of each vehicle 35mph) and the outcome will be I will make it home for dinner and you'll be sucking your dinner through a straw for the next 8 months.

Large cars are NOT safer. They are inherently NOT safer, because they are built on 2000-year-old technology pioneered when someone decided to mount a carriage to a horse and put a seat on top of the carriage. Your body-on-frame vehicles (which are STILL most trucks) have no crumple zones and depend on the hydraulic engine mounts failing to drop the engine in order for it not to crush the occupants. They also have substantially worse handling characteristics, more body flex, and in order to reduce the weight incured by its inherent design, they sacrific safety where UNIBODY's emphasize it.

This isn't the 70's anymore. Safety technology has improved tremendously, and most of it only applies to unibody construction. This is why fewer and fewer cars incorporate it year-after-year. So stop it with the age-old mindset that bigger is safer. It simply is not true, and is quite the opposite. Bigger is more dangerous.


RE: Cool, but...
By erple2 on 10/19/2012 5:42:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
head-on collision at 70mph (effective speed of each vehicle 35mph)


You were fine, except for this physics blunder. Conservation of momentum says this bit was false. It's effectively 70 mph, though higher for the lighter car, lower for the heavier car. The question is, whether the fiat is safer hitting a brick wall at a bit more than 70, than a body on frame vehicle is at a bit less than 70. For modern cars, cars tend to be safer in that instance than modern body on frame vehicles.


RE: Cool, but...
By lagomorpha on 10/9/2012 8:18:55 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention in the long term rising gas prices will pretty much make large cars nonviable without any government intervention. Not many can put a lot of miles on muscle cars when gas is $20 a gallon.


RE: Cool, but...
By titanmiller on 10/9/2012 9:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
they just used REALLY thin sheet metal and cut down on the bracing.


So the first minor hail storm that rolls through will dent it all to hell.


RE: Cool, but...
By Kyuu on 10/9/2012 10:03:57 PM , Rating: 2
"The only way to possibly meet these CAFE standards is to dramatically decrease car weight. Which means making cars much much smaller, dangerously so."

I'm not necessarily in favor of the overbearing new CAFE rules, but this is patently false. That's the only possible way if there are no increases to engine efficiency or other areas, sure. But obviously there will be other advancements in addition to lower weights. Plus, there's always hybrids,electrics, and alternative fuels (though I know you hate those).

Also, cars have become *much* smaller and lighter over the last couple decades, while their safety and accident-worthiness have dramatically improved. Therefore, I don't see how your claim that smaller and lighter vehicles are going in increased accident fatalities holds any water.


RE: Cool, but...
By fishman on 10/10/2012 8:57:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, cars have become *much* smaller and lighter over the last couple decades, while their safety and accident-worthiness have dramatically improved.


Cars have actually gained quite a bit of weight.


RE: Cool, but...
By theapparition on 10/10/2012 10:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah. What was he smoking?

Cars sold today are typically 50-100% heavier than similar models decades ago. Most of that extra weight comes from safety measures and extra amenities.

And lowering weight does nothing to reduce highway mileage. Nothing. It only has an impact on city driving where you are constantly trying to overcome momentum. Highway mileage is only a factor of drag, both aerodynamic and rolling resistance.


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