Ford Motor Company announced the use of graphene – a two-dimensional nanomaterial – in vehicle parts, to concede with National Nanotechnology Day. Graphene is a material used in coating, cell phones and some sporting goods – and soon, Ford alleges it will be used under the hood in Ford vehicles, a first in automotive
Ford, along with Eagle Industries and XG Sciences, has found a way to use a very small amount of graphene – it’s very expensive – while “achieving major property improvements – more lightweight, better heat conductivity and noise reduction – a breakthrough application.”
In vehicles, graphene – which is lightweight and incredibly strong – will reduce sound inside the cabin and creating a quieter ride
Graphene has recently generated some interest in the automotive industry for paint, polymer and battery applications.
“The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials. “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.”
Graphene was first isolated in 2004, but application breakthroughs are relatively new. (Sound familiar – aluminum, graphite, fiberglass and various polymer coatings were once so touted – all have limited applications?)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. The 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.
Ford, in collaboration with Eagle Industries and XG Sciences, claims to have found a way to use small amounts in covering up noise making under-hood systems.
“A small amount of graphene goes a long way, and in this case, it has a significant effect on sound absorption qualities,” said John Bull, president of Eagle Industries.
The graphene is mixed with foam constituents, and tests done by Ford and suppliers has shown about a 17%reduction in noise, a 20% improvement in mechanical properties and a 30% improvement in heat endurance properties, compared with that of the foam used without graphene. The percentages look good but they lack perspective at what seepeds and over what range? Measured how?