US – The two companies are accelerating joint research to develop high-volume manufacturing techniques for automotive-grade carbon fibre, with the aim of reducing vehicle weight and boosting fuel efficiency and performance. They will join the government’s new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation.
The aim of the venture, and the mission of the Institute, is to overcome the high costs and limited availability of carbon fibre, developing a viable process for high-volume production. Ford and Dow Chemical Company began collaborating on carbon fibre composites in 2012; DowAksa is a 50:50 joint venture between Dow and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii.
“Our goal is to develop a material that can greatly reduce vehicle weight in support of improved fuel economy for our customers,” explained 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 weight savings of more than 50% compared to steel.”
Creating lighter vehicles is a key part of Ford’s Blueprint for Sustainability’ plan to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Examples include the Fiesta, made from high-strength, lightweight boron steel, and the 2015 Ford F-150, which features military-grade aluminium alloy.