FORD TO BUILD LIGHTER, STRONGER AND QUIETER VEHICLES WITH GRAPHENE
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.