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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 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
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.

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