Ford, Dow Chemical partner on carbon fiber composites, hope to shed up to 750 pounds
DEARBORN, Mich., April 12, 2012 – Cutting the weight of new cars and
trucks by up to 750 pounds by the end of the decade is a key component
of Ford's strategy to improve fuel efficiency. In order to help achieve
that goal, Ford Motor Company is partnering with Dow Automotive Systems,
a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, to research the use of
advanced carbon fiber composites in high-volume vehicles.
"There are two ways to reduce energy use in vehicles: improving the
conversion efficiency of fuels to motion and reducing the amount of work
that powertrains need to do," said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief
technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. "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."
Ford is investigating a range of new materials, enhanced design
processes and new manufacturing techniques that would enable automotive
structures to meet increasingly stringent safety and quality standards
while cutting weight.
"Vehicle weight reduction for our customers through intelligent design
with a materials focus has been a priority for Dow Automotive Systems,"
said Florian Schattenmann, director of Research and Development for Dow
Automotive Systems. "This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber
composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through
the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding
Carbon fiber composites have been used in aerospace and racing cars
for decades due to their unique combination of high strength and low
mass. Until recently these materials have been far too costly for use in
high-volume mainstream applications.
Dow Automotive Systems and Ford have signed a joint development
agreement that will see researchers from the two companies collaborate
on several fronts. The development teams will focus on establishing an
economical source of automotive-grade carbon fiber and develop component
manufacturing methods for high-volume automotive applications.
The partnership will seek to combine the best of Ford's capabilities
and experience in design, engineering and high-volume vehicle production
with Dow Automotive's strengths in R&D, materials science and
high-volume polymer processing.
"Reducing weight will benefit the efficiency of every Ford vehicle,"
added Mascarenas. "However, it's particularly critical to improving the
range of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles."
The joint development effort will also leverage work that The Dow
Chemical Company has already begun through partnerships with Turkish
carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the U.S. Department of Energy Oak
Ridge National Laboratory.
If the joint development effort is successful, carbon fiber components
may begin appearing on new Ford vehicles in the latter part of this
decade as product development teams work toward meeting new fuel
efficiency standards of more than 50 mpg and extending the range of