Graphene, a strong and light­weight two-di­men­sional nano­ma­te­rial used in coat­ing, cell phones and sport­ing goods, will soon be used un­der the hood in Ford ve­hi­cles. Ford Mo­tor Com­pany, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ea­gle In­dus­tries and XG Sciences, has found a way to use small amounts of graphene in fuel rail cov­ers, pump cov­ers and front en­gine cov­ers to max­i­mize its ben­e­fits. The man­u­fac­turer plans to use graphene in its ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion by year end on over ten un­der hood com­po­nents on the Ford F-150 and Mus­tang and even­tu­ally, other Ford ve­hi­cles.

Graphene has re­cently gen­er­ated the en­thu­si­asm and ex­cite­ment in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try for paint, poly­mer and bat­tery ap­pli­ca­tions. Dubbed a ‘mir­a­cle ma­te­rial’ by some en­gi­neers, graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and one of the most con­duc­tive ma­te­ri­als in the world. It is a great sound bar­rier and is ex­tremely thin and flex­i­ble. In ve­hi­cles, graphene will act like a pair of su­per-pow­ered, noise can­celling head­phones, re­duc­ing sound in­side the cabin and cre­at­ing a qui­eter ride.

Graphene was first iso­lated in 2004, but ap­pli­ca­tion break­throughs are rel­a­tively new. The first ex­per­i­ment to iso­late graphene was done by us­ing pen­cil lead, which con­tains graphite, and a piece of tape, us­ing the tape to pull off lay­ers of graphite to cre­ate a ma­te­rial that is a sin­gle layer thick – graphene. This ex­per­i­ment won a No­bel Prize in 2010.

In 2014, Ford be­gan work­ing with sup­pli­ers to study the ma­te­rial and how to use it in run­ning tri­als with auto parts such as fuel rail cov­ers, pump cov­ers and front en­gine cov­ers. Gen­er­ally, at­tempt­ing to re­duce noise in­side ve­hi­cle cab­ins means adding more ma­te­rial and weight, but with graphene, it’s the op­po­site.

The graphene is mixed with foam con­stituents, and tests done by Ford and sup­pli­ers has shown about a 17% re­duc­tion in noise, 20% im­prove­ment in me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties and 30% im­prove­ment in heat en­durance prop­er­ties, com­pared with that of the foam used with­out graphene.

Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel.

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