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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 torpor on 10/9/2012 11:26:56 PM , Rating: 2
Camicazi made the point for me, but since you insist on highlighting your ignorance, I'll help you.

Here's a Saturn SL2, the car we're talking about. Note the size of the relatively flat panels. Imagine a big, flat sheet like that on a motorcycle doing, what was it, 200mph? I'm still waiting to see one that size, big boy....

And to prove it's plastic, because a stubbornly ignorant guy like you will probably go there next, here's a fun little image for you:

So I have to ask you. Are *you* done now, punk?

RE: Cool, but...
By theapparition on 10/10/2012 10:39:37 AM , Rating: 2
Stop with the insults, especially when you don't know as much as you think you do.

The Corvette also has "plastic" panels and that's a 190mph car. No, they are no longer fiberglass as they stopped using fiberglass decades ago. Technically, they are composite, which many plastics fall into the same category. Just because Saturn used a lower grade of plastic, doesn't mean that plastic or composites are not feasible for use.

RE: Cool, but...
By Motoman on 10/10/2012 11:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
I was done before...and so were you, but you just keep going. Note the post that theapparation made.

There's lots of different kinds of plastics, and your continued insistence that there's something inherently different between the slab-sided Duck I posted and the Saturn door panel is just sheer stupidity.

RE: Cool, but...
By Motoman on 10/10/2012 11:34:23 AM , Rating: 2
Also, look at the f%cking picture you just posted yourself. Is there any special subframe there to support the plastic panels that just melted off?


You just proved yourself wrong. Congrats!

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