Ford Uses Carbon Fiber Hood to Reduce Vehicle Weight, Increase Fuel Efficiency
October 9, 2012 3:37 PM
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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
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
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.
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RE: Cool, but...
10/10/2012 3:38:29 AM
i think 20 years of technology developments have improved polymers and structural advances in automotive frames.
I think the trick (at least in some cases) is to make the plastic panels intentially look like plastic. With some SUV's--for example--riveted on fenders & other body parts gives the vehicle a rugged appearance. Rather than having a complete unibody, perhaps semi-unibody frames can be built which are structurally sound on their own, but designed to support the polymer pieces without additional bracing/weight. this is done all the time with tube-framed racing cars, so a similar concept should work fairly well in production vehicles.
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