Researchers developing lightweight, inexpensive composite brake rotors

Researchers developing lightweight, inexpensive composite brake rotors
Researchers in the US are developing next generation aluminum composite brake rotors for the mass market, which they claim could offer 60% weight savings and 3x longer life expectancy compared to their iron counterparts.

"Due to expense, today's composite brakes have been reserved for motorcycles, race cars and high performance sports cars, but these new, fiber reinforced, metal matrix composite brake rotors are aimed at every day cars," said Nikhil Gupta, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. "They will be easier to manufacture, and the fiber reinforcements will provide longer life span."

According to Professor Gupta, the one-piece brake rotors will be tailored to meet the extreme and variable temperature and loading conditions of automotive brakes.

The team will replace the traditional rotor material with a high temperature aluminum alloy reinforced with functionally graded ceramic particles and fibers to create a lightweight but durable material that can be customised to best serve each section of the rotor.

"These functionally graded materials allow us to create the optimal composition for each part of the rotor," Gupta explained. "The hybrid material allows us to provide reinforcement where additional strength is needed, increase high temperature performance, and minimise stress at the interfaces between the zones. Together, this should boost rotor life significantly, reducing warranty and replacement costs, and the weight savings will improve the vehicle's fuel efficiency."

It is estimated that the composite rotors could reduce the total weight of a mid-size sedan by about 13.6kg. A finished prototype is expected in the next year.

Laura Hopperton

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Yes, these will be much stronger, but what are there true cooling capacity? Most people that need a upgraded or high performance brake rotor already go for a drilled type now, and they are actually pretty good for the purpose pending you want to do the swap. Unless these things can cool like a drilled rotor can, I don't see the point. Cquence has actually proven the new manufacturing techniques have made them just as durable as a carbon composite anyway...

Comment Tim, 28/02/2012

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