Ford Pursuing Graphene for Lightweighting

By on February 16, 2019 in IN THE NEWS, MATERIAL MATTERS

Graphene is being called a “miracle material.” It’s 200 times stronger than steel, highly conductive, an excellent sound barrier while at the same time flexible and thin.

Ford is using graphene to improve underhood components that weigh less, have improved heat conductivity and diminish noise. Working with Tier I Eagle Industries and graphene supplier XG Sciences, Ford has developed xGnP grapheneenhanced polyurethane (PU) foam.

Graphene is not cheap. The new foam only incorporates a little graphene in fuel-rail, pump and front-engine covers.

“The breakthrough here is not in the material, but in how we are using it,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials. “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.”

In the past, reducing noise inside vehicles meant heavier materials. The opposite is true with graphene. “A small amount of graphene goes a long way, and in this case, it has a significant effect on sound absorption qualities,” said John Bull, president of Eagle Industries.

The PU graphene foam has shown to reduce noise by 17 percent with a 20-percent mechanical properties improvement and 30-percent heat-endurance advantage over foam without graphene.

Graphene was expected to go into production at the end of 2018 on more than 10 underhood components on the Ford F-150 and Mustang and eventually, other Ford vehicles.