Ford is partnering with DowAksa on carbon fiber for lighter vehicles
By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Lightweight and high-tech, carbon fiber is strong enough to be used in automotive applications, but thus far it has been a bit too expensive for mainstream use. With its application already announced in cars like the Ford GT and Shelby GT350R, carbon fiber is making its way to production cars. And, a new partnership between Ford and DowAksa should pave the way for its use in the mainstream.
“Our collaboration with DowAksa and participation in this organization significantly boosts what we are able to achieve,” Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering, said. “We have a true alliance of highly talented people working to take automotive materials to the next level.”
This partnership between the two companies is geared toward making carbon fiber use more affordable.
“This opportunity builds upon Ford’s current joint development agreement with Dow Chemical and accelerates our timeline to introduce carbon fiber composites into high-volume applications,” Jim deVries, Ford global manager, Materials and Manufacturing Research, said. “This collaboration helps us accelerate our efforts to create lighter automotive-grade composite materials that benefit customers by enabling improved fuel economy without sacrificing strength.”
Like employing more efficient powertrains, using carbon fiber and other lightweight materials is another way to meet those ever-increasing fuel economy standards. And, for those of you reading this site, less weight means improved performance.
“Our goal is to develop a material that can greatly reduce vehicle weight in support of improved fuel economy for our customers,” said Patrick Blanchard, Ford supervisor, Composites Group. “The flexibility of the technology allows us to develop materials for all vehicle subsystems across the product line—resulting in a weight savings of more than 50 percent compared to steel.”
The two companies are even working on ways to produce carbon fiber using less energy and ways to recycle carbon fiber more efficiently.