US automaker Ford Motor and Dow Chemical Co will combine efforts to develop low-cost carbon fiber components. The US giant aims to cut between 250 pounds and 750 pounds from its new vehicles , partly by using lighter materials.
The joint venture with Dow Automotive Systems mean Ford could start using components made from advanced carbon fiber composites in its vehicle lineup before the end of this decade.
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.
Replacing cast iron and traditional steel components with lightweight materials — including advanced high-strength steel, magnesium, aluminum, and polymer composites — allows manufacturers to include additional safety devices, integrated electronic systems and emissions control equipment on vehicles without increasing their weight.
Last month the US Government said that will put on battle up to $14.2 million in federal funds to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger, lighter weight materials.
A 10 percent reduction in a vehicle’s weight can reduce its fuel consumption buy six to eight percent.
Performance plastics make up 25% of Dow’s sales, with many products designed for the automotive and construction industries. The plastics include polyolefins such as polyethylene and polypropylene, as well as polystyrene used to produce Styrofoam insulating material.
Dow Automotive Systems is part of Dow Chemical Company – the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue after BASF.