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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 Samus on 10/10/2012 4:03:36 AM , Rating: 3
Listen, you have four options for a hood. Let's focus on the Ford Focus.

Aftermarket - some of these are so poorly engineered they can kill you in an accident. They lack engineered crumple zones and could be too strong, snapping the hood hinges, sliding right through the windshield decapitating you. Many cases of this on many vehicles over the years. These hoods are generally very heavy and often don't seal the cowl and latch properly. This hood costs $100-$130.

Aftermarket fiberglass - no crumple zones, pretty weak, will split easily and offer no protection to you or your frame. However, fairly light and easy to paint/modify. Also very inexpensive. $150-$250.

OEM or OEM-approved - has proper crumple zones and will be heavier than aftermarket, but matches the original hood you had quite well. This hood costs $250-$350.

Aftermarket Carbon Fiber - no crumple zones, but not neccessary. These hoods are incredibly safe for pedestrian impact as well as object impact. Their ability to deform/conform/reform gives them buoyancy at the expense of shattering the epoxy that holds the initial shape. The hood will return to its original shape after impact, but the structural integrity will be sacrificed requiring re-epoxy ($300-$400) and obvious repainting if you want it painted. These hoods are superior to all hood options in every way: heat disipation, noise insulation, impact absorbtion, safety, feathery weight (mine weighs 6lbs) and the carbon weave looks beautiful and natural on a black vehicle, while looking sporty on a white vehicle. $400-$800 in varying qualities and styles.

Lastly , nobody "repairs" hoods anymore... if any repair requires repainting, they are sent on a slowboat to China. It isn't cost effective to even bend a dented hood back if it is going to need to be painted anyway. The prep work to 'refurb' an old hood outweighs the cost of a new hood that comes primed and easily painted for a few hundred bucks.

Every vehicle should have a carbon fiber hood. I've crashed a lot autocrossing and rallyecrossing; the hood almost always saves the subframe legs and engine cradle. I impacted concrete barrier at 50mph and the exhaust manifold wasn't even impacted, and even that hood was repaired for $200 in re-epoxy and clearcoat.

A carbon fiber hood on every vehicle would reduce overall collision repair costs astronomically. Obviously there will be lots of damage in a frontal collision forward of the bonnet, but bumpers, grills and radiators are cheap, the stuff behind them is not, especially the human bodies.

RE: Cool, but...
By 91TTZ on 10/10/12, Rating: 0
RE: Cool, but...
By Samus on 10/10/2012 12:44:24 PM , Rating: 2
An automotive engineer that races cars just cant exist in your universe I guess...

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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