Powerful graphene for vehicle parts coming soon, says Ford

The Ford Motor Company says that it will soon use powerful graphene for vehicle parts. We currently use graphene in coating, some sporting goods, and cell phones. Ford claims that there will be graphene under the hood of some of its cars by the end of 2018.

Along with XG Sciences and Eagle Industries, Ford has found a way to use tiny amounts of graphene to achieve major property improvements. Ford describes this as a ‘breakthrough application.’

Powerful graphene

Graphene is the lightest, thinnest, and strongest material in the world, say scientists. It is also incredibly flexible.

We do not call it ‘powerful graphene’ for nothing. It is approximately 200 times stronger than the strongest steel in the world.

Graphene is also the best conductor of heat and electricity on Earth. It is incredibly thin. Scientists describe it as a 2-dimensional object.

Ford testing powerful graphene
In the strength test process, a researcher tests a piece of graphene composite next to a graphene-free material. (Image: media.ford.com)

Powerful graphene has many possible uses

Many in the automotive industry see several promising uses for graphene. Some uses include, for example, battery, polymer, and paint applications, says Ford.

Although it is not economically viable for every application, Ford and its partners have found some. They are considering using small amounts in fuel rail covers and front engine covers. They are also considering using graphene in pump covers.

Debbie Mielewski, Ford Senior Technical Leader, Sustainability and Emerging Materials, said:

“The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it. We are able to use a very small amount, less than a half percent, to help us achieve significant enhancements in durability, sound resistance and weight reduction – applications that others have not focused on.”

Ford and powerful graphene – since 2014

Ford’s interest in powerful graphene began in 2014. The company and some suppliers began to study how to use the 2-D material.

Engineers carried out running trials with auto parts such as front engine covers and pump covers. They also experimented with rail covers.

Typically, when you want to make vehicle cabins quieter, you have to add more material and weight. With graphene, on the other hand, you use less material and weight.

John Bull, President of Eagle Industries, said:

“A small amount of graphene goes a long way, and in this case, it has a significant effect on sound absorption qualities.”

Noise reduction and heat endurance

Engineers mixed graphene with foam constituents and carried out a series of tests. Tests showed a 17% reduction in noise and a 20% improvement in mechanical properties. Engineers also reported a thirty percent improvement in heat endurance properties.

Philip Rose, XG Sciences’ CEO (chief executive officer), said:

“We are excited about the performance benefits our products are able to provide to Ford and Eagle Industries.”

“Working with early adopters such as Ford Motor Company demonstrates the potential for graphene in multiple applications, and we look forward to extending our collaboration into other materials, and enabling further performance improvements.”

Ford expects to use graphene in over ten under-hood components by the end of 2018. It will start with the Mustang and Ford F-150 and then include other Ford vehicles.

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