Ford Motor Company has found a new use for graphene – a relatively new nanomaterial that’s 200 times stronger than steel – under the hoods of passenger vehicles like the Ford F-150 pickup and Ford Mustang pony car. Working together with Eagle Industries and XG Sciences, has come up with a method for deploying the stuff in more than ten underhood components, including fuel rail covers, pump covers, and front engine covers. The graphene, which is remarkably thin and flexible, with very strong sound-barrier properties, will be mixed with foam constituents to produce parts that punch well above their weight with regard to strength and noise reduction.
“A small amount of graphene goes a long way,” says Eagle Industries President John Bull. “In this case, it has a significant effect on sound absorption qualities.”
Testing has shown about a 17-percent reduction in noise, a 20-percent improvement in mechanical properties, and a 30-percent improvement in heat-endurance properties for Ford’s graphene-containing foam, vs. the same foam material without any graphene content. And importantly, all of this comes without any weight penalty.
“The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it,” says Ford Senior Technical Leader of Sustainability and Emerging Materials Debbie Mielewski. “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 says that its new graphene material will start production on underhood components for the Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang by the year’s end, before spreading to additional models in the automaker’s passenger vehicle lineup.