Carbon Fiber Comes of Age

» Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Motor Trend | Comments Off on Carbon Fiber Comes of Age

Carbon Fiber Comes of Age

[Originally posted in Motor Trend]

The auto industry has a weight problem. For everything from handling to acceleration to fuel economy, the extra pounds our cars have picked up over time is enemy number one. But thanks to recent technological advances and a new willingness to push the envelope, the auto industry is on the verge of solving its weight problem with what are essentially fabrics for cars.

“The future is cars made of textiles,” said Dr. Joerg Pohlman, BMW’s managing director of a joint venture with SGL Carbon. The textiles Pohlman is referring to consist of carbon fiber woven into sheets and then encased in plastic. The resulting composite, called carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, has long been considered the Holy Grail of vehicle weight reduction.

Up to 60 percent lighter than steel and as much as 30 percent lighter than even the most advanced extruded aluminum, CFRP is an extremely strong material with an almost infinite ability to survive long-term fatigue.

And if you listen to some, it’s also the best hope the auto industry has to lower emissions without sacrificing performance. [read the entire article @ Motor Trend]